Ultimate Guide : How To Use Yoast SEO Plugin

When it comes to SEO, webmasters and SEOs has to take care of all the major as well as minor things. While you work on your Website’s On-Page SEO there are various things you need to take care of. General On-Page setup as well as the technical part of it. For WordPress users like you and me, there are plenty of SEO Plugins which can do the work for you but I always liked and recommended using Yoast SEO Plugin.

Guide on Yoast SEO Plugin

Benefits of Using Yoast SEO Plugin:

Yoast SEO Plugin is an all-rounder plugin which takes care of 90% of your on-site SEO configuration. As you know there are various on-page factors which affect the ranking of your website in search engines. Generally, these on-page settings are made so that search engines understand the content on the page.

Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin is offering various features such as:

  • Setting Title and Description of Pages, Posts, Categories, Author Page, etc.
  • Enable / disable Breadcrumbs
  • Changing URL Structure
  • Google Webmaster, Bing Webmaster, and Yoast Webmaster Site Verification.
  • Easily accessible meta tags
  • Open Graph Tags
  • Twitter Cards
  • Social Media settings
  • RSS Settings
  • Editing Robots.txt file
  • Editing .htaccess file
  • Creating Sitemaps
  • Search Console Dashboard in WordPress.

 

Let’s learn about the Plugin in more details…

 

Yoast WordPress SEO Dashboard:

The SEO Dashboard by Yoast SEO Plugin is where you can find all the issues and get the improvement ideas which are suggested by the Yoast.

To Access the Dashboard:

  • Login to WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • On the Left-Hand Side of your Admin Dashboard, you can find SEO tab.
  • Click on the SEO -> Dashboard.
  • In the “Dashboard” tab, you can find the Issues and Improvements section where Yoast informs us about the issues and improvements.
  • In the “General” tab, you can find the Installation wizard and default settings button.
  • In the “Features” tab, you can find 3 options there which are:
    1. Advanced Settings – This will enable site-wide titles, Meta descriptions, social metadata, sitemaps and many other features.
    2. On-Page.org – This will enable the daily checking of site index-ability by search engines.
    3. Admin Bar Menu – This enables the Yoast SEO Admin bar where you can find useful links to third-party tools which are really helpful in SEO.
  • In the “Your Info” tab, you can add your information about the website like your website name, alternate name of the website. You can also set whether you are a person or a company. If you are a Company, you can add company name and logo. If you are a person, then you can add your name.
  • In the “Webmaster Tools” tab, you can verify the website by adding the Meta values for Google webmaster, Bing webmaster, and Yandex webmaster.
  • In the “Security” tab, you can enable or disable the advanced part of the Yoast SEO Meta box.
  • Save Changes.

SEO Dashboard of Yoast SEO Plugin

Changing Titles and Meta Description via Yoast SEO Plugin:

When it comes to On-Page SEO, perfectly optimized Page Title and Meta Descriptions are very important. Page title defines what the page is all about in 55 characters and Meta description is a 150-character paragraph which explains about the post. These titles and descriptions are shown in the Search Result Page when someone searches on the Search Engines. In Google, the Blue Links are the Title of the Page and the Black paragraph is the Meta Description of the Page.

With the Help of Yoast SEO Plugin, you can change title and Meta descriptions of Home page, internal pages, posts, categories and tag archives, etc. There are default title and Meta description for everything but you can change them as per your wish. I would suggest that you should change to optimize your page. Not only Titles and Meta descriptions, Yoast also provides control over Meta robots too.

General Title and Meta Settings:

In this section, you can configure your General SEO settings like title separator and two of the other services provided by Yoast which are readability analysis and keyword analysis.

  • Login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • On Left-Hand side, take your mouse over SEO and select Titles & Meta’s.
  • In the General tab. You can find these settings.
  • Select the Title Separator. I use “|” for most of my websites.
  • Enable Readability Analysis (Or Disable if you don’t want it. I would recommend you to keep it enabled). If you enable it, Yoast will analyze your content and then it gives you tips on how to make your content more readable.
  • Enable Keyword analysis. Yoast provides an SEO score of Good, Avg. and Poor based on the Keyword of the page. So enable it and Yoast will provide you some tips on what changes you should do to make your content more SEO friendly.
  • Save Changes.

General Settings in Yoast SEO Plugin

Tip: Don’t blindly follow Yoast’s tips. Make changes which are suitable and which seems suitable for your content. Yoast’s tips are designed for everyone. So some might not be suitable for you. Think before you make big changes.

 

Home Page Title and Description:

  • Login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • On Left-Hand side, take your mouse over SEO and select Titles & Metas.
  • Click on Homepage Tab.
  • Enter Homepage Title in Title Template field.
  • Enter Homepage Description in Meta description template field.
  • Save Changes

 Changing Home page title and meta description in Yoast SEO Plugin

Tip: Keep your homepage title Branded. Don’t over optimize your homepage title. Your Homepage is your Brand Page. I strongly recommend you not to stuff your homepage title with keywords.

 

Changing Default Title and Meta description for Posts:

  • Login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • On Left-Hand side, take your mouse over SEO and select Titles & Meta’s.
  • Click on Post Types Tab.
  • Enter Default Title in Title Template field.
    • There is the pre-defined title for Posts which is Post Title or Page name then your title separator and then your website name. But you can change this and keep another default title if you want to.
    • You will get an option of changing the Post title and description while you are writing your post, below the post itself. You can change it from there.
  • Enter Default Description in Meta description template field.
    • If you keep it blank, then it will consider the initial words of your post as the meta
  • Set Meta robots to Index.
  • You can hide date in snippet preview. If you enable it will just show how your description looks like along with the date.
  • Set Yoast SEO Meta Box to Show (it will enable you Yoast SEO Meta box in every post.)
  • Save Changes.

Changing Posts Title and Description

Tip: Never Ever Fill your title and Description with Keywords. You should include Keywords but avoid keyword stuffing.

In the Same Tab, you can also change the Default Page Title and Description for Pages and Medias too.

 

Changing Default Title and Meta Descriptions for Categories and Tag Pages:

  • Login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • On Left-Hand side, take your mouse over SEO and select Titles & Metas.
  • Click on Taxonomies Tab.
  • Enter Default Title in Title Template field.
  • Enter Default Meta Description in the Meta Description Template Field.
  • Set Meta robots for categories to Index.
  • Enable the Yoast SEO Meta Box for Categories.
  • Save the Changes.

Changing Title and Descriptions for Tags and Categories

On the same Tab, you can change the Title and Meta Description for the Tag.

Make sure you Set the Meta Robots for Tags to Index and Enable the Yoast SEO Meta Box.

Changing Title and Descriptions for Tag

Changing Default Title and Meta Description for Archives:

  • Login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • On Left-Hand side, take your mouse over SEO and select Titles & Metas.
  • Click on Archives Tab.
  • Enter Default Title in Title Template field.
  • Enter Default Meta Description in the Meta Description Template Field.
  • Disable Author Archives if you have Single Author Blog. Enable if you have many authors. In My case, I have enabled it as I have many authors.
  • Set Meta Robots to Index.
  • Save the Changes.

Changing Default Title and Description for Archives

On the same tab, you can set default Title and Meta description for Date Archives, 404 Page and Search Result Page as well.

 

Sitewide Meta Settings:

  • Login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • On Left-Hand side, take your mouse over SEO and select Titles & Meta’s.
  • Click on “Other” Tab.
  • Set Subpages of archives to Index.
  • Disable using Meta Keyword tag. Search Engines doesn’t use them anymore and might get you in trouble.
  • You can enable/disable noodp Meta tag as per your wish. I recommend and I use noodp Meta tag as I don’t want the search engine to show description from 3rd party source. I want search engines to pick up my defined Meta description.
  • Save the Changes.

Changing Sitewide Meta Settings in Yoast SEO

Till now, you learned about Setting the default title and Meta descriptions for the site and also learned about some sitewide Meta settings.

You can set a custom title and Meta description to each post, page, category, tags, etc. and change their Meta settings too.

Yes! You can do it for Each and Every pages, posts, etc.

Let me show you what all options you have Per-Post because of the Yoast SEO Plugin.

You can see a Yoast SEO Box at the Bottom of the Post. In this Section, Yoast Plugin provides you with very important on-page settings such as:

  • SEO Analysis.
  • Readability Analysis.
  • Snippet Editor
    • You can Change your Page Title
    • You can Change your Page Meta Description
    • You can Change your Page URL
  • Tips for On-Page
  • Tips for Readability.
  • Open Graph Settings
  • Twitter Card Settings
  • Advanced Meta Settings.

 

The most important part of on-page SEO is selecting the Perfect Keyword.

In Yoast SEO, the SEO analysis is based on the keyword you select. As you enter the focus keyword in the Focus keyword section of the Yoast SEO Section, Yoast will analyze your page content and give you tips accordingly.

Yoast SEO Box Below Every Post

This is a screenshot of Yoast SEO Box from one of my Recipe Blog. You can find this Section below each WordPress posts.

You can see there is the Snippet Editor where you can see the Snippet Preview and Edit Snippet Button. This snippet preview is based on the Default Title and Description which we just saw above. Buy you can edit the title and description by clicking on the Edit Snippet button.

For Yoast to do your SEO analysis, you need to define a Keyword for your post. You can enter your keyword in the Focus keyword section. As you enter the Focus keyword, Yoast will analyze your page and give you tips and suggestions accordingly. In this case, Mango Cream Recipe is the Focus keyword and according to my selection of focused keyword Yoast analyzed and gave me some suggestions. In this image, you can see all green signals, but initially, it was like this:

SEO Score in Yoast SEO

Based on these suggestions, I made necessary changes in my content as well as in my title and description and after making changes it turned all green as you can see in the Yoast SEO Box Screenshot image above.

Snippet Editor in Yoast SEO

This is what you see when you click on the Edit Snippet button. Here you can change the Title and Meta Description as well as the URL for the Page. As you know the Title and Description should be SEO friendly but also the URL of the page should be SEO Friendly or let’s say it should be clean and readable.

The green progress bars you can see here helps you in maintaining the character length. If the progress bar is Green, it means the length is neither too small nor too large. It turns to orange if it is a bit small or if there are some extra characters.

Now let me show you about the Readability Analysis by Yoast. When I started writing the post I just wrote what came to my mind. I didn’t bother about the readability of the content. All I was focusing was the content quality. I strongly recommend to focus on content quality but also you must keep content readability in mind.

This is the Screenshot of the analysis before correcting.

Readability Test Before

After reading these guidelines, I made some corrections and as soon as I made those corrections this is what my readability analysis showed.

Readability Test After

As I said earlier, you must do only those changes which suit your content. Don’t blindly follow all the tips from Yoast SEO Plugin.

Now, let us check the Facebook’s Open graph settings and Twitter Cards option available in the plugin.

Open-Graph Meta and Twitter cards are a really great thing. When someone shares your URL on Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, etc. the data from your OG Meta tags is displayed on these websites.

By default, your page title and Meta description are used here, but if you want to customize your OG tags and Twitter cards then you can change it to the custom title and description and even images.

 

Custom Title and Descriptions for OG Tags / Facebook via Yoast SEO Plugin:

  • Login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • Go to Posts -> All Posts.
  • Select the Post in which you need to customize the Facebook Title, Description, and Image.
  • Click on Edit.
  • Scroll down to Yoast SEO section.
  • Click on Share button.
  • Enter the Facebook Title in the Title Box.
  • Enter the Facebook Description in the Description Box.
  • Enter the Image URL in the URL Section or Upload the Image. (Image size should be 1200x630px.)
  • Update the Post.

Facebook Title and Description Changing in Yoast SEO

Similarly, you can also change the Title and Description for Twitter.

 

Twitter Card Settings via Yoast SEO Plugin:

  • Login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • Go to Posts -> All Posts.
  • Select the Post in which you need to customize the Facebook Title, Description, and Image.
  • Click on Edit.
  • Scroll down to Yoast SEO section.
  • Click on Share button.
  • Click on the Twitter Icon.
  • Enter the Twitter Title in the Title Box.
  • Enter the Twitter Description in the Description Box.
  • Enter the Image URL in the URL Section or Upload the Image. (Image size should be 1024x512px.)
  • Update the Post.

Twitter Card Settings in Yoast SEO Plugin

Advanced Meta Settings and Canonical URL in Yoast SEO:

One of the most important benefits of using Yoast SEO is you can control various meta data without editing the codes.

When it comes to Advanced Meta Configurations for your Website, Yoast SEO is the Best SEO Plugin in the market.

You can change Meta robots for each post as well as you can set custom canonical URL too.

Options Available for Meta Robots are:

  • Index / Noindex
  • Follow / Nofollow
  • Noodp
  • No Image Index
  • No Archive
  • No Snippet

For changing these Settings:

  • Login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • Go to Posts -> All Posts.
  • Select the Post in which you need to customize the Facebook Title, Description, and Image.
  • Click on Edit.
  • Scroll down to Yoast SEO section.
  • Click on the Settings Icon.
  • In Meta robots index, you can change the value to Index or Noindex as per the requirement.
  • In Meta robots follow, you can change the value to Follow or Nofollow as per the requirement.
  • In Meta robots Advanced, you can change the value to noodp, no image index, no archive, no snippet as per the requirement. I recommend using none or noodp. Don’t use “no image index” until there are some legal issues. Don’t use “no archive” let Google decide what to index and what not to index.
  • You can add canonical URL if there is any otherwise keep it blank. Canonical URL is that URL which has almost same content as your current page.

Advanced Meta Options in Yoast SEO

So, till now you learned about titles descriptions, some Meta tags, OG tags, Twitter cards and Some Advanced Meta Robots Options.

Creating XML Sitemaps using Yoast SEO Plugin:

There are basically 2 types of Sitemaps, one is HTML Sitemaps and other is XML Sitemaps. HTML Sitemaps are for your website users through which they can navigate to the important pages of your website. The XML Sitemaps are .xml file which helps the search engine robots to find the important pages of your website.

Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin provides an option where you can create an XML sitemap index file which covers your Posts, pages, images, etc.

For creating XML sitemap using Yoast SEO plugin, you need to follow these steps:

  • Login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • On the Left-Hand side, go to your SEO -> XML Sitemaps.
  • Set the XML Sitemap Functionality to Enable.
  • Set Max Entries per sitemap page. By Default, it is 1000 and you can increase or decrease the number as per your server because increasing it might have an impact on your server performance.
  • Click on the User Sitemap tab.
  • Enable or disable the user sitemap as per the website. If you have a good number of registered members on the website, then you can enable the user sitemap.
  • Click on the Post Types tab.
  • Set the Post to “In Sitemap”
  • Set the Pages to “In Sitemap”
  • Set the Media to “In Sitemap”. Set it to not in sitemap if you don’t want your images in the sitemap.
  • Click on the Exclude Posts tab. Here you can add the post ID’s of those posts you want to exclude from the Sitemaps.
  • Click on the Taxonomies tab.
  • Set the Categories to “In Sitemap”
  • Set the Tags to “In Sitemap”
  • Set the Format to “In Sitemap”
  • Save the Settings.

XML Sitemaps in Yoast SEO

Permalink Configuration in Yoast SEO Plugin:

You can do the permalink settings in the WordPress itself. But the options you get in WordPress doesn’t allow you to get the “Advanced” options as you get in the Yoast SEO Plugin. This helps you to control over the URLs and you can also avoid some of the parameters getting indexed in Google. This won’t let Google index the ugly website and well as avoid the duplicate content issue.

The Most useful setting of this plugin is you can remove the replytocom parameter which is a serious issue which most of us face.

For configuring the Permalink:

  • Login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • On the Left-Hand side, go to SEO -> Advanced.
  • Click on the “Permalinks” tab.
  • Make necessary changes as per your website requirements.

This is the screenshot of my website.

Permalink Settings in Yoast SEO

My settings:

  • Strip the Category Base – Keep. It is good to keep your URL Short.
  • Redirect Attachment URL to parent post – No redirect. If you redirect them to the Parent post, then it will be tough for Google to index your images.
  • Stop words in slugs – Remove.
  • Remove the “?replytocom” variable – Remove.
  • Redirect ugly URLs to Clean Permalinks – No Redirect.

These are my settings, but you can change the settings as per your requirements.

 

Social Settings in WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast:

You can set up your social profiles to inform your search engines which social profiles are associated with your site.

You can set the Default Values for:

  • Facebook’s Open Graph.
  • Twitter Card.
  • Pinterest verification.
  • Google+ Publisher page.

 

For setting the Social Accounts and other information follow these steps:

  • Login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • On the Left-Hand side, go to SEO -> Social.
  • In the Accounts Tab, you can enter the URLs of your Social Profiles.
  • Click on the Facebook tab.
  • Enable the Open Graph Meta Data.
  • In the Front page settings, you can set the Image URL, title and description of the front page. You can also copy the Meta description just by clicking the “copy home meta description”.
  • You can also enable the Facebook insights by adding the Facebook App ID
  • Click on the Twitter Tab.
  • Enable the Twitter card Meta data.
  • You can select the default card type. You can set it to either summary or summary with a large image if you have images for most of your posts.
  • Click on the Pinterest tab.
  • Enter the Meta tag value of the Pinterest Business page.
  • Click on the Google+ Tab.
  • Enter the Google+ Publisher Page URL
  • Click on Save Changes.

Social Profiles in Yoast SEO

You can also enable the Breadcrumbs on your website. Breadcrumbs are your navigation system and which shows the path to the post. It also helps in Internal Linking of your website.

To enable on your website, you need to follow these steps:

  • Login to your WordPress admin dashboard.
  • On the Left-Hand side, go to SEO -> Advanced.
  • In the Breadcrumb tab, you can set it to enable.
  • Click on Save Changes.

Yoast SEO Plugin allows you create, edit and update the Robots.txt file as well as the .htaccess file.

For editing the Robots.txt file, follow this steps:

  • Login to your WordPress admin Dashboard.
  • On the Left-Hand side, go to SEO -> Tools.

Here you can find 3 options. Bulk Editor, file editor and Import export settings.

  • Click on the File Editor.
  • If you don’t have a Robots.txt file, you will find a “Create a Robots.txt” button and click on it.
  • Then you can edit your Robots.txt file.
  • Click on Save Changes to Robots.txt

For editing, the .htaccess file follow the first 3 steps from the above. There you can find the .htaccess file and you can make the changes as you wish to change.

Tip: Never change or edit the Robots.txt file and .htaccess file if you don’t know about the impact of changes you make. Otherwise, it will get your site in trouble.

With the help of the Bulk Editor, you can bulk edit the title and description of the pages.

Follow these steps for accessing the bulk editor tool by Yoast SEO Plugin:

  • Login to your WordPress admin Dashboard
  • On the Left-Hand side, go to SEO -> Tools.
  • Click on Bulk Editor
  • In the Title Tab, you can find the post for which you want to change the titles and click on Save All.
  • In the description tab, you can find the post for which you want to change the description and click on the Save all.

 

Google Search Console – Yoast SEO:

Yoast SEO also allows you to access Google Search Console from your WordPress Website. To enable this feature on your website, you have to verify the website first.

Having this feature on your WordPress website is very good thing. I don’t have to log in my Google Search Console every day and check the errors because I can check the errors in my WordPress Dashboard itself.

For Google Search Console:

  • Login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard.
  • On the Left-Hand side, go to SEO -> Search console.
  • There you can find the Search Console Dashboard with 4 tabs.
    1. Desktop
    2. Smartphone
    3. Feature Phone
    4. Settings
  • In the “Desktop” tab, you will find the URL errors which occurred when Google was crawling the Desktop website or when Google’s Desktop bot was on your website.
  • In the “Smartphone” tab, you will find the URL errors which occurred when Google was crawling the Smartphone version of your website or when Google’s smartphone bot was on your website.
  • In the “Feature Phone” tab, you will find the URL errors which occurred when Google was crawling the feature phone version of your website or when Google’s featured phone bot was crawling your website.
  • In the “Setting” tab, you can Re-authenticate your website again if required.

Search Console in Yoast SEO Plugin

So guys, this is all you must know about Yoast SEO plugin. Hope you find the information useful and helpful.

Please drop your comments below. Let me know your views on this Post.

-Cheers!

 

Information source: Yoast SEO Official website.

 

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