If you have a WordPress site and would like to work on search engine optimization (SEO), then you might want to check out the Yoast SEO plugin. While there are a number of SEO plugins for WordPress, Yoast SEO is used by over 5 million websites. I find that it’s a good way to become better acquainted with SEO practices and make sure your site’s content is working for you. I’ve installed Yoast SEO on clients’ sites, as well as my own, because it’s pretty easy to use and it keeps you focused on SEO whenever a new post or page is added.
Because I’ve had folks ask me about how to use Yoast SEO, I’m going to go over it a bit here.
1. Go through Yoast’s configuration wizard.
Yoast SEO’s configuration wizard goes through the basic settings for your website.
- Welcome Screen. On the first welcome screen, click the “CONFIGURE YOAST SEO” button to start the wizard.
- Environment. Choose Option A if your site is live. If your site is under construction, choose Option B.
- Site type. Select your site type from the options available.
- Company or person. Choose whether your site represents a company or person.
- Social Profiles. Add all of the social media profile URLs you want to include at this stage. The format needs to include http:// or https:// (if your site has an SSL security certificate). For example, it should look like https://www.facebook.com/yourprofilepage.
- Search engine visibility. The defaults on this page should work well for you. You will be able to check and change these options under the FEATURES tab.
- Multiple Authors. Choose whether your site will have a number of authors or just one to prevent duplicate content.
- Google Search Console. You can integrate google webmaster tools by getting a Google authorization code and entering in the field available. If you don’t want do this step now, hit the Next button, and you can go back to this in the WEBMASTER TOOLS tab.
- Title settings. You can change or specify your site’s title here. You can choose whatever title separator you want. This will be used to separate the site title from page, posts, and category titles.
- Newsletter. You can add your name and email address if you want to get a newsletter featuring the Yoast SEO plugin. If you don’t want to do this, just hit next without entering anything.
- Premium upgrade. If you want to upgrade, you can do that here. You might want to first get familiar with the plugin before upgrading. It’s completely up to you. If you’re not ready to upgrade, just click the next button at the bottom.
- Success! Now that you’ve finished the basic setup, you can get started with using Yoast SEO on your pages and posts.
Once you go through the configuration wizard, you’ll return to your main Yoast SEO Dashboard. Whenever you click General under the SEO menu on the left admin navigation menu (#4 SEO settings in image screenshot), you’ll return to your main Dashboard.
As mentioned during the configuration wizard, the features tab has several options that you can switch on or off. If you have questions on any of the features, you can click on the “?” in the circle next to the feature’s title for some explanation on the feature. All of the featured options should be on.
A word about XML sitemaps. XML sitemap generators create a list of your website’s pages, posts, categories, etc., for search engines to use to index your website. Search engines need to index your site for your site to come up in their results. Sitemap generators are beneficial because not only do they index you site, but they also notify Google when your site has been updated.
If you have multiple sitemap generators in different plugins, they will most likely conflict with one another. Either use the one in Yoast, or your preferred XML sitemap generator, but not both at the same time.
3. Webmaster Tools.
The Webmaster Tools allows you to integrate analytics from various sites in Yoast SEO. I use Bing and Google webmaster tools to submit and update sitemaps regularly and view traffic, analytics and stats associated with my websites. Verifying your webmaster tools associated with search engines like Google and Bing will add meta tags to your website allowing you to connect your site to these search engines webmaster tools.
4. Yoast SEO Settings
Just to become a bit more familiar with Yoast, click through the different admin menu items in the left column under SEO. While under tools there is the ability to do bulk edits, it’s better from an SEO perspective to do this per page. Check out how to make Yoast work for youon all of your website’s posts or pages.