When ever we talk about Best SEO plugins for WordPress, All in one SEO and WordPress SEO by yoast comes out as a prominent name. Now, many of you who are using All in one SEO plugin, you should know about much advance version of the plugin, which is available in WordPress repo 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 and here I’m sharing this tutorial, which will help you to shift from all in one SEO to Yoast SEO plugin and configure this plugin for optimum performance.
A Guide for configuring WordPress Yoast SEO plugin
WordPress SEO by yoast is powerhouse for WordPress search engine optimization. Though, setting up this plugin might be tricky and a new blogger or one without basic SEO skills, might find it hard to configure. A wrong configuration, can stop search engine bots from indexing your blog or you might let bots crawl part which might not be important. Anyways, before we go ahead with out setup guide, lets look into some of the SEO features offered by this plugin:
- Verify site 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
Now, these are some of the settings offered by this plugin and now, let’s get started with setting up this free SEO plugin.
Complete Set up & Configuration guide for Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin:
Now, if you are using any existing SEO plugins like All in one SEO, Old all in one SEO, headspace 2 or using any other plugins by Yoast like RSS footer, Robots meta or Yoast breadcrumbs, you should start by importing settings to this plugin. Once you have installed and activated WordPress SEO by yoast, go to SEO> Import & export under left panel and select the plugin from which you would like to import your settings. I suggest to take a back up of your database and then use option which says ” Delete the old data after import?(recommended) “.
WordPress SEO Dashboard:
Now, very first step to get started with this plugin is by submitting your site to Google, Bing,Alexa, Pinterest and Yandex. I have already mentioned how to submit site to Google and Alexa. Now, lets get started with advance part of this plugin:
Titles and Meta Settings:
This is one of the most important par of this plugin and I will explain most of the part with screenshots and brief explanation below it. Once you click on Titles and metas, click on help section first to see what operator is being used and what does they do. This will help you to quickly setup title and metas SEO part.
This is the option which I ideally use. Though, you can ignore “use meta keyword tag”, as Google already made it official that they do not care about Keyword meta tag. Last options will keep your WordPress blog head section clean by hiding information such as, post shortlinks, WLW manifest link and other. Now, click on home tab and configure the settings for your homepage title and meta description. Here is a screenshot
- Title template : Home title that you want to show in Google search.
- Meta description: Your Homepage meta description for search engine.
- Meta Keyword template : Add your target keyword for homepage
- Author Metadata: Select the author which you want to use for Google authorship. Also click on Edit profile and add your Google plus profile link in the Google + field. Ex: https://plus.google.com/117420368760274729369/ . Also add your Website link in Contributor section of Google plus profile.
- Google publisher page: Add your Google plus page URL here and add your Website link in your page about section.
Here you can define the SEO for post, page and media section of your WordPress blog. As I mentioned above, do check out 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 blog writing evergreen content. If you are running news blog, and want to show date for your posts in search engine, you can check “Date in snippet preview” box.
I prefer keeping tags and categories as noindex and dofollow. Though, it may change depending upon your Blog SEO plan. If you wish to use my settings, simply check “Noindex, follow” and “hide” box. You can again configure title template according to your wish. Since we are not indexing tags and categories, you can add more user and brand centric title template. 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 date and author archive. I prefer and suggest to check “Noindex and follow” box and leave everything as it is.
So, that finishes our setting part for meta and titles settings of WordPress SEO by yoast.
Here you can configure the Facebook open graph meta tags, default image for Facebook and twitter meta card. You can learn in depth about Facebook open graph meta tags here. I recommend you to add a default image, which will help Facebook to show an image, when your posts have no image and is liked or shared on Facebook.
I’m still using the old age Google XML sitemap plugin. Though, if you wish to remove one more plugin, you can use Yoast WordPress SEO sitemap feature. Simply enable the sitemap and select what all part you wish to add or remove from your sitemap.
Don’t confuse this with WordPress default Permalink setting. Here you can configure advanced permalink settings. I usually use 2-3 settings from here to avoid parameteres being indexed in Google search. Specially with this plugin, it’s easier to get rid of replytocom parameter, which is quite a headache at time. Here is a screenshot of my settings:
Breadcrumbs are useful for making search engine understand your site structure and helps users in navigating your site. Though, I never tried and tested breadcrumbs on any of my site. You can read official guide here for better understanding of breadcrumbs.
Once you are done making all the changes in SEO by yoast plugin, go ahead and use 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 RSS footer plugin and using it, you can add a link back to original article in RSS feeds. You can also use it to add advertisement on your RSS feeds. I simply add following line in after post content section “The post %%POSTLINK%% appeared first on %%BLOGLINK%%.”
This is another useful feature of WordPress SEO by yoast plugin. You can edit WordPress .htaccess and robots.txt file from dashboard. A word of caution: When ever you are editing your .htaccess file from dashboard, always keep FTP access too, as misconfigured .htaccess file may stop your site to stop functioning. You can read more about robots.txt and .htaccess below:
- Optimize WordPress Robots.txt file for SEO
- How to create WordPress .htaccess file
- How to edit WordPress .htaccess file
I hope this tutorial will help you to setup WordPress SEO by yoast correctly. I also recommend you to check out Geniusgeek guide too, which will give more insight on any missing part here.
This is another handy feature of this plugin, as it lets you direct any URL to URL of your choice. Specially when you are getting too many 404 errors (You can check that in Google Webmaster tool), you can simply re-direct them to save your link juice. If you want to learn everything about 404 error pages and SEO, you should read this detailed guide.
In my earlier articles I told you how important is is for you to submit your blog to Google Webmaster tools, and at the same time you should monitor all the crawl errors. This way you would know, what errors they are getting while trying to crawl and index your blog. With SEO by Yoast Webmaster tool, you can see all errors inside your WordPress dashboard. For the first time you need to add the authentication code (This is simple step) and after that you can see all errors within your dashboard.
In the end:
This is one of the best free SEO plugin for your WordPress blog, though at the same time I highly recommend you to be sure of setting before making any changes. A wrong configuration may bring negative SEO effect on your Blog.