This is the guide to configure the SEO By Yoast plugin. In the 2.0 version there are some changes in the UI, but configuration is still the same. I have updated this guide for the Knowledge Graph setting which is in the 2.0 version.
Whenever we talk about Best SEO Plugins for WordPress and All In One SEO, WordPress SEO by Yoast emerges as a prominent name. Many of you who are using the All In One SEO plugin should know about the much-advanced version of the plugin, which is available in WordPress with the name “WordPress SEO by Yoast“.
This plugin has integrated many known features of other plugins by Joost de Valk, for example, Meta robots plugin, RSS Footer plugin, and many others. Since this plugin offers many features, setting up Yoast WordPress SEO plugin is not that easy. For this reason, I am sharing this tutorial, which will help you to transition from All In One SEO to Yoast SEO plugin, and configure this plugin for optimal performance.
A Guide for configuring WordPress Yoast SEO plugin:
WordPress SEO by Yoast is the powerhouse for WordPress search engine optimization. However, setting up this plugin might be tricky for some, and a new blogger or anyone without basic SEO skills, might find it difficult to configure. An incorrect configuration can stop search engine bots from indexing your blog, or you might let bots crawl a part that might not be important. Before we go ahead with our setup guide, let’s look into some of the SEO features offered by this plugin:
- Verify sites in Google, Bing, and Alexa
- Title meta settings
- Hide RSD, WLW, Shortlinks from head
- Meta control for Taxonomies, author page
- Supports Facebook Open Graph
- Generate sitemap
- Advance permalink control
- Breadcrumbs support
- RSS feed footer plugin settings
- Import settings from other SEO plugins.
- Edit .htaccess files
- Hide date from Search engine snippets
- Add Google authorship for single author
These are some of the settings offered by this plugin.
Now let’s get started with the tutorial to set up this free SEO plugin.
Complete Setup & Configuration guide for Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin:
If you are using any existing SEO plugins like All In One SEO, Old All In One SEO, Headspace 2 or any other such plugins, or if you are using any plugins by Yoast such as RSS footer, Robots meta or Yoast Breadcrumbs, you should start by importing your settings into this plugin.
Once you have installed and activated WordPress SEO by Yoast, go to SEO> Import & export under the left panel, and select the plugin from which you would like to import your settings. I suggest making a backup of your database, and then using the option that to “Delete the old data after import? (recommended)”.
WordPress SEO Dashboard:
Now, let’s get started with advanced part of this plugin:
Titles and Meta Settings:
This is one of the most important parts of this plugin, and I will explain most of it with screenshots and brief explanations below them.
Once you click on titles and metas, click on the help section first to see what operator is being used and what that operator does. This will help you to quickly setup the title and metas SEO aspects of the plugin.
This is the option that I ideally use. However, you can ignore “use meta keyword tag”, as Google already made it official that they do not care about keyword meta tags.
The final options will keep your WordPress blog head section clean by hiding information such as posted short links, WLW manifest links and others.
Now, click on the home tab and configure the settings for your homepage title and meta description. Here is a screenshot:
- Title template: the home title that you want to show in Google search.
- Meta Description: your homepage meta description for search engines.
- Meta Keyword template: add your target keywords for your homepage
- Author Metadata: Select the author that you want to use for Google authorship. Also click on Edit profile and add your Google plus profile link in the Google+ field. Example: https://plus.google.com/117420368760274729369/Also add your website link in the Contributor section of your Google+ profile.
- Google publisher page: Add your Google+ page URL here and add your website link in your page’s “About” section.
Here you can define the SEO for the post, page and media sections of your WordPress blog. As I mentioned above, be sure to check out the help section to understand what templates you can use. Also, by default WordPress SEO by Yoast hides the date from search engine snippets, which is useful for blogs writing evergreen content. If you are running a news blog and want to show the date for your posts in search engines, you can check the “Date in snippet preview” box.
I prefer keeping tags and categories as noindex and dofollow. However, this may change depending on your blog’s SEO plan. If you wish to use my settings, simply check the “Noindex”, “follow” and “hide” boxes. Once again, you can configure the title template according to your needs. Since we are not indexing tags and categories, you can add more user and brand-centric title templates. Ex: “%%term_title%% Archives %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%”
Here you can set indexing for your author and date-based archive. Also, you can disable or enable the date and author archive. I suggest that you check the “Noindex” and “follow” boxes, and leave everything else as it is.
This completes the “settings” piece for the meta and titles settings of WordPress SEO by Yoast.
In SEO By Yoast 2.0, they have added the Google Knowledge Graph feature. This will show your social media profile in the search engine whenever someone searches for your brand name. The configuration is easy. Simply add all your social media profiles in the format shown in the image below.
Here you can configure the Facebook open graph meta tags, the default image for Facebook, and the Twitter Meta card. You can learn in depth about Facebook open graph meta tags here. I recommend that you add a default image, which will help Facebook to show an image when your posts have no image and are liked or shared on Facebook.
Enable the Sitemap feature and this plugin will take care of your blog’s sitemap. After creating the Sitemap file, submit the Sitemap to Google, Bing & any other search engine that accepts Sitemap file.
Don’t confuse this with the WordPress default Permalink setting. Here you can configure advanced permalink settings. I usually use 2-3 settings from here to avoid parameters being indexed in Google searches. With this plugin in particular, it is easier to get rid of the replytocom parameter, which is quite a headache.
Note: Note: This setting is under Advanced > Permalink tab.
Here is a screenshot of my settings:
Breadcrumbs are useful for getting search engines to understand your site structure, and they help users to navigating your site. However, I have never tried and tested breadcrumbs on any of my sites. You can read the official guide here for a better understanding of breadcrumbs.
Once you are done making all the changes in your SEO by Yoast plugin, go ahead and use the Google rich snippet testing tool to check for authorship, and see how Google will show your blog post in Google search.
This part integrates the feature of the RSS footer plugin. When using it you can add a link back to the original article in RSS feeds. You can also use it to add advertisements to your RSS feeds. I simply add the following line after the post content section: “The post %%POSTLINK%% appeared first on %%BLOGLINK%%.”
Note: This setting is under the Advanced tab.
This is another useful feature of the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. You can edit the WordPress .htaccess and robots.txt file from the dashboard. A word of caution: whenever you are editing your .htaccess file from your dashboard, always keep FTP access as well, as misconfigured .htaccess files may stop your site from functioning. You can read more about robots.txt and .htaccess below:
- Optimize WordPress Robots.txt file for SEO
- How to Create a WordPress .htaccess File
- How to Edit a WordPress .htaccess File
I hope this tutorial will help you to setup WordPress SEO by Yoast correctly. I also recommend that you check out the Geniusgeek guide which will offer even more insight into this plugin’s features.
Note: The features below are in the pro version of SEO By Yoast. These are optional, and you may or may not need them.
This is another handy feature of this plugin, as it allows you to direct any URL to a URL of your choice. When you are getting too many 404 errors (you can check that in the Google Webmaster tool), you can simply re-direct them to save your link juice. If you want to learn much more about 404 error pages and SEO, you should read this detailed guide.
In my earlier articles I explained how important it is for you to submit your blog to Google Webmaster tools, and to monitor all the crawl errors. This way you will know what errors they are getting while trying to crawl and index your blog. With the SEO by Yoast Webmaster tool, you can see all of the errors inside your WordPress dashboard. The first time you need to add the authentication code (this is a simple step), and after that you can see all errors from within your dashboard.
Here is a video tutorial to learn how to setup SEO by Yoast plugin:
In the end:
This is one of the best free SEO plugins for your WordPress blog, though I highly recommend that you be sure of your settings before making any changes. An incorrect configuration may bring negative SEO effects to your Blog.