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WordPress SEO – Yoast SEO Plugin Setup

Boost your website's organic reach with the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress.

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WordPress SEO – Yoast SEO Plugin Setup

The WordPress SEO Hype

WordPress SEO is as easy as ever in 2017, and Yoast SEO makes things much easier. In this tutorial we will go over a few WordPress SEO tips that can give you the organic edge your creative content deserves. If you haven’t already, Install the Yoast SEO plugin via your Dashboard > Plugins > Add New page.

Tip: In the admin menu, go to Settings > Permalinks and select the Custom Structure option. Use /%category%/%postname%/ in the field

What Does Yoast Do for WordPress SEO?

Yoast SEO pretty much pulls the data from your website’s content and displays user friendly parameters allowing you to specify how your content is displayed across the web. This means you can fine tune the details for your target audience. This plugin also acts as a tool to write more engaging content when set up appropriately. The plugin also allows you to write meta titles and descriptions for all your category, tag and custom taxonomy archives, giving you the option to further optimize those pages.

Setting Up Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin

Once you’ve enabled the Yoast SEO plugin on your WordPress website, head over to the Features tab in the Yoast SEO Dashboard. Enable all functions except for Cornerstone Content, click Save Changes and proceed to the Company Info tab.

In the Website name section, type in your site’s name in the Website name field as you want it to display in search results. You can leave the description out of this. In the Alternate name field you can write additional aliases your website may go by. The Company or person section will typically use the same name as entered in the Website name input field. Finally for the Company logo, I recommend using a 1200 x 1200 PNG image that clearly represents your website or business. Save your changes and navigate to the Webmaster tools tab.

Yoast’s WordPress SEO Webmaster Connect

Listed in this section are fields for Google, Bing, and Yandex Webmaster Tools verification. In other words, it allows you to verify ownership of your website —improving WordPress SEO more. To obtain the text necessary for verification, click the links next to the input fields to access each network’s setup wizard.

If you’ve already verified your website you can skip this step. Save your changes. Using Webmaster Tools is a great way to better understand your website’s structure making for better web development down the line. It is highly suggested that you verify with Google, Bing, and Yandex.

Navigate to the Security tab and switch the Advanced part of the Yoast SEO meta box option to Enabled. Save your changes once again, then click the Title and Metas link in your admin menu.

WordPress SEO Meta Settings

This is where Yoast for WordPress SEO starts to get good. Let’s leave Force Rewrite titles disabled —enable this at the end of this tutorial if your titles don’t show correctly. Choose your desired site separator which shows between your website’s title and tagline. I recommend using either “|” or “-” for a nice clean look. Save your changes then proceed to the Homepage & Front page tab.

Yoast also works with ecommerce plugins like WooCommerceIn the Homepage & Front page tab you can write the title plus a description that tells search engines and potential visitors what your website is about. If you see a link to edit your page and/or blog itself then do just that. The best way to take advantage of this feature is to write within a character limit while engaging those search engines and potential visitors in a unique way.

The title is limited to 69 characters. That includes any spaces between characters. I recommend writing the name of the website followed by a brief description that includes a keyword or key phrase that is relevant to your website. Consider seeing how your favorite websites show up in search engine results for ideas and examples. Make sure to save all of the changes you make then proceed to the Post Types tab.

Improve WordPress SEO with Templates

This feature uses variables to grab the content from the posts and pages you’ve created on your website. Variables are basically names of data wrapped around percentage signs, ea. %%tag%%. For each content type, let’s set the title field to grab your written titles of each page and post by typing %%title%% into the corresponding fields. Set the descriptions for each post and page with the %%excerpt%% variable. Use these same methods for media attachments and any other items you may have.

We can also configure the Meta Robots, Date in Snippet Preview, and Yoast SEO Meta Box.

  • Posts – Meta Robots to index, the Date in Snippet Preview to Show, and the Yoast SEO Meta Box to Show.
  • Pages – Meta Robots to noindex, the Date in Snippet Preview to Hide, and the Yoast SEO Meta Box to Show.
  • Media Attachments – Meta Robots to noindex, the Date in Snippet Preview to Hide, and the Yoast SEO Meta Box to Hide.

Finally, save your changes and go to the Taxonomies tab.

Best WordPress SEO Variables for Posts

We’re gonna use variables to pull the content from any available post data. Since posts should have their own unique description we can leave the description fields blank. Each post has a description field on it’s edit page where you can write a description. Set up the templates as follows:

Categories

  • Title Template – %%category%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%
  • Meta Robots – index
  • Yoast SEO Meta Box – Show

Tags

  • Title Template – %%tag%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%
  • Meta Robots – noindex
  • Yoast SEO Meta Box – Hide

Format (if available)

  • Title Template – %%term_title%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%
  • Format-based archives – Enabled
  • Meta Robots – noindex

Save your changes and go to the Archives tab. Disable the Author Archives and Date Archives —leave the Special Pages with their default inputs. Save your changes and proceed to the Other tab. Set the Subpages of archives to noindex and Use meta keywords tag option to Disabled. Again, save your changes then click the Social link in the Yoast SEO admin menu.

WordPress SEO for Social Profiles

Your social profiles are your free ticket to improving your organic reach with the benefit of backlinks. When you post a link to your website or web content on a social network, you are creating a backlink. The trick is to have a link you post generate a proper image, title, and description that will entice the reader. Each Social Network has it’s recommendations for title length, description length, and image dimensions. It is good idea to provide all of this data for link sharing on each social network your site is active on.

The links to your website’s social network account pages can be entered in the Your social profiles section in their corresponding fields. Save your changes then go to the Facebook tab. Enable the Add Open Graph meta data option. The Default settings allow you to upload an image that represents your website. I recommend using a 1024 x 1024 PNG image that clearly represents your website or blog.

WordPress SEO Analytics for Social Networks

If you’d like to have access to Facebook analytic data, you can connect your page in the Facebook Insights and Admins section. If you have an app you can connect that here as well by entering your Facebook App ID. More info here – Facebook for Web Developers. Click Save changes and go to the Twitter tab.

Enable the Add Twitter card meta data option and set the default card type to Summary with Large Image. In the Pinterest tab you can add the confirmation code in the field if one is associated with the website —save your changes. Enter the link to your Google Publisher Page in the Google+ settings if you own an account. Save and navigate to XML Sitemaps in the admin menu.

Improving WordPress SEO with XML Sitemaps

Sitemaps help search engines crawl, or look at your site’s content more efficiently. This can sometimes improve the speed of your site’s listings in SERPs (search engine results pages). Skip the General tab and go to the Post Types tab. Configure the settings in each tab and section as follows:

Post Types

  • Posts (post) – In sitemap
  • Pages (page) – In sitemap
  • Media (attachment) – Not in sitemap

Excluded Posts

  • Posts to exclude – Enter the post ID of any post you wish to hide.

Taxonomies

  • Categories (category)) – In sitemap
  • Tags (post_tag) – Not in sitemap
  • Format (post_format) – Not in sitemap

Save your changes and click the Advanced link in the admin menu.

Advanced WordPress SEO Setup

Breadcrumbs are a trail of links listed on a webpage that typically leads back to the homepage of that website. They both offer easy navigation for your visitors and give search engine crawlers a better idea of your website’s link hierarchy. Most themes come integrated with this feature. If your theme doesn’t use breadcrumbs and you’d like to implement them on your site, Yoast has the perfect tutorial here – Implement Yoast SEO Breadcrumbs. If you need help with theme installation, that can be found here on Cool Webs – How to Install a WordPress Theme.

Clean Permalinks for Better WordPress SEO

Configure the Permalink tab’s sections as follows:

Change URLs

  • Strip the category base – Remove
  • Redirect attachment URLs to parent post URL – Redirect

Clean up permalinks

  • Stop words in slugs – Keep
  • Remove the ?replytocom variables – Remove
  • Redirect ugly URLs to clean permalinks – No redirect

RSS should be good to go. The Tools page provides shortcut methods to otherwise tedious tasks, allowing for optimization, file editing, and bulk changes to existing posts and pages. Search Console allows helps you identify potential page errors from your website. You can enable this feature by authenticating your Google Webmasters account in the Settings tab.

Go for the green and maximize your Organic Reach!

Yoast SEO Page Analysis

Your WordPress SEO is Ready to Go!

All that’s left from here is to create engaging content and reinforcing the WordPress SEO of your posts and pages by filling out the options available. That’s it, we’re all done! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial —there’s a lot more to this plugin so if you’d like to learn more, just check out the Yoast website.

Please share this tutorial if it helped you out in anyway. Until next time, keep learning…

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