How to Set Up Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

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How to Set Up Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

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“.

Setup Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

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)”.

Importing settings to WordPress SEO by yoast

WordPress SEO Dashboard:

SEO by yoast Dashboard

The first step to getting started with this plugin is to submit your site to Google, Bing, Alexa, Pinterest, and Yandex.  (I have already written about how to submit a site to Google and Alexa.)

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.

General Title and metas setting

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:

WordPress Home SEO

  • 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.

Post Type:

WordPress post Page SEO Settings

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.

Taxonomies:

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%%

Other:

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.

Social settings:

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.

KnowledgeGraph

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.

XML sitemap:

XML Sitemaps file

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.

Permalink Configuration:

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:

Permalink WordPress SEO by yoast

Internal link:

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.

RSS:

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.

Edit files:

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:

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.

Redirects:

SEO redirecs plugin

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.

Webmaster tools:

Google Crawl isse WordPress dashboard

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.

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Article by Harsh Agrawal

Harsh has written 1043 articles.

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Comments

  1. says

    Hey Harsh! your articles are very helpful for every blogger specially for the newbies like me. I am almost becoming regular reader of shout me loud. You are an Inspiration to me. Thanks for this useful guide!

  2. Karan says

    Hey Harsh,
    I just migrated from All in One seo to wordpress seo by yoast and disabled All in one seo.
    I have submitted the sitemap i.e sitemap_index.xml and this sitemap page show 5 different sitemaps like – post-sitemap.xml, page-sitemap.xml, attachment-sitemap.xml, category-sitemap.xml.
    Please tell me that do I have to submit all these 5 sitemaps or just submitting only sitemap_index.xml is enough ?
    Please help me out. Its quite urgent.

  3. says

    If the sitemap is submitted to a wordpress blog, does it automatically update when a new post is made on the blog? Or do we have to update the sitemap manually every time we create a new post?

  4. says

    a few questions…..
    1- i see in your video you no index/follow cats in titles and metas section, does google still find and keep your posts indexed once they fall off the front post page since now they are only in the category section which is no index?
    2- my tagline to my site isn’t keyword descriptive, more of a slogan, which i guess would show up on the home description….your saying i should use the site title, then type in a keyword rich description on the home title template tag? ( i have no static page, it’s a recent post page)
    3- i see most search results have the brand or site name after the post title, which i believe is what yoast recommends. your saying in the vid that it’s better to just have the post title…wouldn’t that affect your site and the name being known?
    4- and last lol….when i check the source of my post pages, the site title has the first H1 heading, so there is more then 1 H1, actually is 3, not sure what the other is but you can see it in the source with contr U, I have heard with a theme made with html 5 it doesnt matter if you have more then 1 H1, my snippit in google seems to have part of my post name then the site title, with room to spare, I think the multi H1 thing might be because the theme has a place to put the site title and tagline in its custom settings….should i leave this blank or something, or doesnt the multi H1 thing matter?
    …..sorry for all the questions, but i figured i’d get them all out at once, lol

  5. sumeshsml says

    Thanks Harsh For Sharing This but in Yoast SEO plugin, we can put only one Keyword and in All in One SEO, we can put as many we want, so Here i am confused that which one is exactly the best. Does Yoast plugin drive more traffic to my blog than All in One SEO????

    • says

      @Sumesh
      Good question, as this is always a confusing question among many bloggers. I hope you talking about Focus keyword, and when using SEO by Yoast, add only one. If you ask my recommendation betwene All in One SEO and SEO by Yoast, I would suggest to use only SEO by Yoast.

  6. says

    Hi Harsh,
    Thanks for this post. It was quite helpful. I did as you suggested but the meta description added in the home page does not appear in searches. I also used an analyser and it reported back that the meta description is missing. Do I need to do something else too?

  7. says

    Thanks for this detailed information. I am using thesis 2.1.9. What is better to use? Thesis in built SEO or yoast plugin? If answer is yoast plug in then how to integrate that with thesis, as thesis does not have option for disable in-built SEO? Please advise.
    Thanks in advance.

    • says

      @Kanan
      I’m also using Thesis 2.1.9 and I use Thesis inbuilt SEO option. Along with Thesis Inbuilt SEO, I’m using WPSocialPro which let me take care of Social SEO part. For you I would recommend the same configuration.

  8. says

    what if i Delete the old data after import? Will it delete all SEO optimization for all in one seo puglin because was ALL in one SEO tool before. If yes should i have to add all post meta and keywords again

  9. Karan Bhagat says

    Thanks a lot Harsh Sir.
    I was recommended by you to this post through a comment where I requested you to clear my doubts between All in one SEO and WordPress SEO by Yoast and I am glad I came here, even in the All in one SEO pack I was making some silly mistakes which were resolved by one of your posts.
    Now I am thinking to move on to SEO by Yoast, will it cause any bad effect on my blog/sitemap or is it completely fine and safe?

  10. says

    Great guide. You’re right: a lot of people I come across install these plugins, but few actually use them. And if they do use it, few use it correctly.

    Hope more WordPress beginners read this so they can apply it to their own blogs.

    • says

      There is no bad effect of it. It just send usage statistics to Yoast and it helps him to refine the product. You can enable it and it will not affect you in anyways.

  11. Gaurav Sharma says

    Hi harsh ,
    Thanks for sharing information on Yoast ,but i am using all in one SEO. I have an problem with jetpack when i am install it and connect with wordpress.com then it is shows me error.
    Thank You!!

    • says

      @Gaurav
      For now I would recommend following steps:

      Empty your cache plugin cache
      Disable the cache plugin
      Try connecting Jetpack now

      It should work if the problem is coz of cache plugin, else you can let me know the error code.

  12. Siraj.M says

    Really effective plugin with multiple tools. But in yoast XML Sitemap, can we change the indexing frequency. Because that’s the biggest issue therefore i am using Google sitemap plugin.
    If you know best plugin for sitemap with multiple option like change frequency so please reply me back :)

  13. says

    Hi Harsh,
    i found your post here when searching how to noindex tags as it detected as duplicated content by siteliner. Good tutorial, thanks. By the way i still have to manually change H1 tag on most WP theme as they appeared more than one H1 tag on homepage, also make H1 tag for post title and H2 for blog title on single post. Is there any plugin to make it easier?

  14. Marco says

    Do you have a list of the code that works in yoast? for example: %%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%% – what else works? thanks.

  15. Siddharth Sharma says

    Hey Harsh Bro.

    Thanks for your guide because 2 days ago i was migrated my blog from blogge to wordpress , now thinking to install some seo plugins so this guide is really helpful for me.

    Thanks :)

    • says

      @Hidayat
      If you have followed all the mentioned settings above, this will avoid duplicate content issue. In short, you will be no indexing your all archive pages, avoid replytocom issues to avoid creating duplicate content issue.

  16. says

    Thanks Harsh for my Genesis site ,after installing Seo Yoast,i was looking how to set the seo setting of Homepage ,you article help me a lot :D

  17. Dilpreet Singh says

    Hello Harsh, i have one query. Will it make a difference in my performance if i switch to Yoast from All in One Seo?

  18. Lovey says

    Hello Harsh, I just want to know can we use more than one SEO plugin in a single blog? I mean, can we use All in One Seo pack and Yoast together?

  19. Abhishek Tavasalkar says

    Thanks for the post. I had configured most of Yoast SEO plugin. But this article helped me to know about things I didn’t knew before.

    Thank You

  20. says

    I have already asked this will tell me, what is force rewrite titles? What it does when checked or not? Please explain it for me.

  21. says

    hi harsh
    when i install this plugin then it is asking for “You’ve just installed WordPress SEO by Yoast. Please helps us improve it by allowing us to gather anonymous usage stats so we know which configurations, plugins and themes to test with” Allow Tracking or not, what should i do,
    Allow tracking or not.

  22. says

    why check the meta keywords option when meta keywords are no longer recognized by Google? Even Yoast does not recommend it.

  23. samarth says

    hy harsh,
    thanks for sharing such useful information…I have a question here I am using All in one seo plugin can i switch to yoast? will it effect my blog’s SEO?
    regards

  24. Khawaja says

    xml sitemap option of yoast seo never worked for me. I have tried it on several blogs, but xml sitemap do not generate even and this let me turn it off and use google xml site map pluging..
    tried alot of search on google for solution, but no solution worked ever :(

  25. Preet says

    No doubt, Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin is best SEO Plugin for WordPress till date. It saved me big bucks thanks forwriting so much lenthy Tutorial on Yoast’s Plugin Setup. I think by default, it have many drawbacks. To get full output,we must configure it accordingly.

  26. says

    Yoast plugin is the best for SEO! Thanks for the Great tutorial! I’ve struggled quite a bit with the setting but I think I got it right now :)

  27. Mohd Shoeb says

    I don’t wanna continue “Blog title” after “page title”. I have did all the things which i can but i can’t get rid of this problem.

    wordpress seo Settings:

    Page Title Format: %%title%%

    Header.php :

    Page.php :

    Please help me out, i am fed up of this problem.

  28. Shoeb says

    What is force rewrite titles? If this option is checked, What it does? Give me the full explanation.

  29. Chris says

    This plug-in make redirect loop if I added page break. I have no clear idea, now I’m thinking to use another WP seo plugin.

  30. Tanjil Islam says

    Hello
    I have implied the yoast plug in my blog and used your settings as mentioned above. but it seems that the crawl rate by the bots have decreased. Previously I just posted an article and it was indexed by the Google in 5-10 minutes. But using the yoast plugin I have to index pages from the web master tools ‘Fetch as Google’. (There is no crawl errors in the webmaster tool) please reply anyone.

  31. Gautham says

    Hi Harsh,

    First of all , thanks for this article !! I was looking for this article .

    At present , I am using GENESIS’s default SEO . It is advisable to migrate from Genesis SEO to Yoast ? If i migrate , there may be chances that i may lose current Genesis SEO settings ..Is there any safe way to migrate ?

    Thanks,
    Gautham

  32. says

    I tried WordPress All in one SEO plugin, really very useful, but recently I came back to Ultimate SEO, which is still my favorite. so I can recommend it

  33. Jeet says

    Thanks Harsh for sharing this. Nice tutorial. It’s a great plugin for onsite SEO. It’s free version got many features which you can only find in paid version. Awesome plugin.

  34. Vishal Rai says

    Nice tutorial harsh.
    Yoast plugin is one of the best plugin for seo. As I am a thesis user it is not that much helpful to me but I suggested my friend this plugin and helped him to set this up and founded much more feature than any other seo plugin.
    Google authorship and facebook insight all rigjt from this plugin awesome.

  35. Taswir Haider says

    I used this plugin before I updated to Thesis. I love using Thesis instead of using a plugin. Still SEO by Yoast is superb for those who are not using such premium theme.

    • says

      @Taswir
      I agree…Themes like Genesis and Thesis offers in-built SEO options, which can work without using any plugin. For other themes, SEO by yoast is the holy-grail.

  36. Mokshis says

    SEOPressor, the one used over here is the best SEO plugin i have come across. But Yoast plugin is also a good one. Plus a handy free version is also available.

  37. says

    Hi harsh ,

    Thanks for sharing information on Yoast ,but as i am using genesis theme for my blog, So is there any extra features you know which is not there in genesis .because these features are i think there in genesis.

    Thank You
    Shorya Bist
    From Youthofest

    • says

      @Shorya
      Genesis supports WordPress SEO by yoast and you can either disable Genesis SEO to use Yoast SEO, or keep using Genesis SEO.
      Since Genesis already offer almost all the options offered by Yoast SEO, you can continue using it.

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