On March 6th, 2018, Yoast announced drastic changes to the WordPress plugin’s interface. Here is the Yoast SEO changelog
In their words, the new Yoast introduced an overhaul of the Admin settings to simplify the plugin configuration.
Which is actually true. Now, it is simpler than ever to configure the plugin, even for a complete beginner.
Yoast SEO is by far the best SEO tool I have used. Don’t listen to me. Have a look at its stats.
More than 5+ million active installs. 4.9 out of 5 stars average rating. You can read the reviews.
There’s no other plugin comes to my mind when someone says WordPress SEO. Even Neil Patel Recommends this plugin.
Okay, so without further ado, let’s jump in and show you how to set up this awesome tool to get the best out of your WordPress SEO.
Let’s show you the best Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin settings…
I encourage you to use this guide as a reference. So, go ahead and open a new tab. Go to your WP dashboard and apply the settings as you read on.
Oh BTW, if you have not already started a blog yet then now is the best time to do so.
I have published a guide on How to Start A Blog and Make Money. Go read it. It has all the things you will ever need to get started.
How to Set Up Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin 2019?
Before we could start configuring the plugin you will have to install and activate the plugin.
Go to Plugins> Add New> Search for Yoast SEO > Install> Activate.
Need more help?
Read this post > How to install a plugin in WordPress?
Once you have installed the plugin you will see a new tab called “SEO” has appeared on the side menu of your WP dashboard.
Inside the Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin (the SEO tab) you will see the following sub menu items:
- Search Appearance
- Search Console
- Premium – We are not going to talk about this right now.
- Courses – this section basically lists down the different courses that Yoast has recently launched.
Okay! if everything looks good then… Let’s explore them all one by one:
General – Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin:
Inside General, you will have three tabs – Dashboard, Features and Webmaster Tools.
Inside the Dashboard, you’ll have the first section called “Check SEO configuration” (refer to the image below).
If you are not sure how to get started with the plugin, you can follow the simple step by step guide to configure it. Just click the Open the configuration wizard button and follow the on-screen instructions to configure your SEO Yoast plugin.
But it is a bit technical and might be difficult for a newbie. So, I recommend you do it manually. And that way you can have more understanding and control over your SEO settings.
Don’t be afraid; just keep on reading this guide and you will be good.
Also by the end of this post, I will share my SEO settings; which you can directly import to your blog if you like.
So, you can simply skip this step.
The other sections inside the Dashboard tab will show you the problems and notifications (if any) related to your blog’s SEO settings.
So, make it a habit to check this section once in a while to rectify if there are any errors.
The last section inside the Dashboard is Credits.
So, if you want to know about the people behind this awesome tool you can click the See who contributed to Yoast SEO button found in this section.
Next stop, Features;
Inside features, you have
SEO analysis: You definitely want this.
If you disable this section then it will remove the focus keyphrase section found under the Yoast SEO meta-box and will disable all keyword-related suggestions inside the post editor.
And without them, you will have a tough time to get your SEO right.
Readability analysis: Not recommended but if you like you can enable it; it doesn’t affect your SEO directly.
Enabling this option will put a tab above the other tab Focus keyphrase. It simply gives you suggestions to improve user’s readability experience.
However, this is not so much useful and if you try to follow each and every suggestion provided here, you will end up creating something hard to understand.
So, I prefer to keep it disabled, since I don’t like to follow all the suggestions it gives.
Cornerstone content: Recommended
Enabling this will enable a checkbox inside the SEO meta-box that you can use to signal the search engines that this is a cornerstone content on your blog.
In simple words, cornerstone content means the posts or contents in your blog that you believe has more value to the users and are the best in your opinion. These are the posts you would want to rank high for a particular keyword above the other articles written around the same topic.
These are the posts you often linked to from other posts on your blog. It’s very helpful to improve your SEO ranking.
I have written a separate post on how you can take advantage of cornerstone articles to rank high on search engines. So, once you’re done with this one you can go ahead and check that out.
Text Link Counter: Recommended
This basically what does is shows you the status of your blog’s internal linking. It helps you count the internal links that are being built for each post and pages.
You’ll have to initiate the counting from the Tools page in Yoast. SEO> Tools> Text link counter
You can check the link count by going to Posts>All Posts (refer to the screenshot)
It will show you the count of internal links that are going out from that particular post and the links that are coming in from the other posts in your blog.
For example; Let’s say you shared a link from Post A to Post C, you also shared a link from Post B to Post C and from Post C you shared one link back to Post A and B, each.
Now, the total link count for each post will be:
Post A has 1 link coming in and 1 link going out;
Post B has 1 link coming in and 1 link going out;
And Post C has 2 links coming in and 1 link going out;
This is just a simple example to make you understand how exactly links are counted.
We will discuss the concept of Internal Linking and its SEO benefits in details in my upcoming posts. So, stay tuned.
XML sitemaps: Recommended
Enabling this feature creates an XML Sitemap for your blog, which helps the search engine bots to crawl your blog efficiently.
After enabling this feature you can check your sitemap by going to www.yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml; where www.yourdomain.com is your blogs URL.
Ryte integration: Optional
If you enable this feature, Yoast will check your site on a weekly basis to see if your blog is still indexable by search engines; and if it is not, then, Yoast SEO will show you a notification in the dashboard.
I don’t use this feature coz, I have made a habit of checking Google Search Console on a daily basis. So, if anything goes wrong I would know right away.
Admin bar menu: Optional
This adds an icon on the admin bar. It is helpful to figure out your SEO status without going inside the post or the page editor. Also, it shows you the number of new notifications (if there’s any) and it has some useful links to learn more about SEO.
So, it is completely your choice whether you want a shortcut on the admin bar or not. I don’t use it coz, the SEO tab on the Sidebar also shows the count of notifications; if there’s any. And for SEO status I use the All Posts section inside WP dashboard.
Security: no advanced settings for authors: not recommended
Enabling this section will give the other authors in your blog the ability to *noindex posts or change the *canonicals. By default, only editors and administrators can do that.
So, it’s recommended not to enable this feature for other users unless you personally know them or trust them.
*Noindex – means you’re choosing not to index (publish) something in search engines.
*Canonicals – If you have written two or more posts on the same topic and most of the contents resemble each other then search engines might count them as duplicate content, and that could penalize your blog. So, by submitting a canonical link you can tell search engines which post you want to give the more preferable to.
Get an even better analysis: Optional
This is a recent addition to the features. It is still in the beta phase. This feature will enable new analysis which will help Yoast understand how Google sees your blog, and possibly help improve your SEO in the future.
It a voluntary feature. If you want to enable, do, else not necessary; Your SEO will not be affected by disabling this.
However, this could become a permanent thing after Yoast SEO version 10.
Webmaster Tools: –
Webmaster Tools verification: This section will help you to verify your blog with different webmaster tools, like, Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools.
But, if you have already verified your blog by using another method, you can simply skip this section.
Need help to connect your blog to Google Search Console?
Read this >> How to connect your blog to Google Search Console?
Search Appearance – Yoast SEO Settings:
Just like the General section, inside Search Appearance, you will see seven tabs here. (refer to the screenshot below)
Inside General, you have three options:
Title Separator: Here you can select the title separator that you want between your post title and site name; which will show up in Google.
Keep it as it is, or choose whichever one you like.
Homepage: This is where you specify your blog’s title and meta description. Even though you can do this from the page editor, it is still recommended you do it from here; especially when you are keeping your “blog posts page” as your homepage.
Knowledge Graph: Here you can decide whether you want to represent your blog as a person or a company. Put the information as applies to you. (refer to the image above)
FYI, in the long run, this information will actually appear in Google’s Knowledge Graph. So, don’t keep changing it.
Content Types: –
This is where you specify your default search appearance for any type of content you have. You can decide the content types that will appear in search results.
By default, this section will have only two types – Posts and Pages.
Later on due to some plugins the list may increase. But in most cases, you don’t need to show any of the other content types in the SERP, unless it’s Audio or Video content.
You definitely want to show your posts in search results. So, keep it to Yes.
Whether you want to show the date you had published a post is totally up to you.
But I recommend, you show it as this will help the users who find your post in the search engines to decide its freshness. Which in fact can help increase your CTR (Click Through Rate); as people like to read updated content.
You definitely want the Yoast SEO Meta box to show up inside each post (while you are editing it). Otherwise how else will you optimize the post for Search Engines?
Leave the title and meta description templates as it is; as you are going to write different post titles and meta descriptions for each post you create.
Just like posts you want to show pages in search results too. So, keep it to Yes.
You don’t need to show the date of publication of your pages; as you are not going to update pages or create new pages that frequently. So, keep the Date in Snippet Preview to Hide.
As you have to optimize the pages as well, so you want to Show the Yoast SEO meta box.
Yes, you do want to redirect the attachments to its parent posts (where you have attached the image).
Now, if somebody somehow stumbles over any image, pdf or any attachments (you had uploaded to any post) outside of your blog like the search engines, then if the users click on the images they will be redirected to the actual post where you have the attachments attached, instead of the upload URL of the image.
Categories (category) / Tags (post_tag)/:
You don’t want your categories and tags to be indexed in search engines. So, set it to No, leave the SEO title and Meta description as it is, and set Yoast SEO Meta Box to Hide.
Two main reasons to noindex the categories and tags from the search engines:
- To avoid unnecessary post duplication.
- Search Engines will only list the quality pages of your blog.
This section disables the archives that are made based on the post format (example; image, audio, video, links etc.).
Enabling this section also causes to create duplicate content. So, keeping it Disabled is recommended.
Strip the category base (usually /category/) from the category URL:
When you go to a particular category page you might see the word “category” in the URL, you can remove it from here. Just keep it to Remove.
And that is recommended, as Shorter URLs are preferable for good user experience and usability.
Author archives settings / Date archives settings:
Just like categories and tags enabling these option will also create the duplicate content problem on your blog.
So, if you are running a single author blog (like mine) it’s recommended to keep the Author archives and Date archives disabled as it will prevent duplicate content on your blog.
These pages never show up in SERP (Search Engine Results Page). These are meant to help the readers to find something on your blog or if the something they are looking for is not available on your blog this page will appear as per the instructions you set here.
Recommended not to touch anything here, unless you know what you are doing. If not sure, then just leave them as they are.
Under breadcrumbs you have,
Breadcrumbs settings: Breadcrumbs help the readers as well as the search engines to learn your content and site structure.
It simply shows your readers where they are right now on your blog. Refer to the pink box below:
This is an optional thing. If you like you can enable it or disable it. It won’t affect your SEO.
If you like to use this feature then simply enabling this option won’t show the breadcrumbs. You will have to place some codes inside your theme’s PHP files. Which is a risky task to do, if you are not well versed in coding.
You can check out the link given inside the section How to insert breadcrumbs in your theme.
Alternatively, you can manually add the breadcrumb shortcode (given below) to individual posts or pages where you want to show the breadcrumbs. (Recommended for no-coders).
RSS feed settings:
This feature is used to automatically add content to your RSS, more specifically, it’s meant to add links back to your blog and your blog posts when it is syndicated through RSS feed.
If someone tries to scrape your content then they will automatically add these links too, helping search engines to identify your blog as the original source of the content.
I prefer to leave it as it is:
You can customize it if you want. Just refer to the Available variables found in that RSS section.
Search Console Settings in Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin:
Inside this, you’ll see a settings tab. You first need to connect your blog to the Google Search Console.
Once you’ve verified your Domain in the Search Console, you can come back to this section and click the button that says. “Get Google Authorization Code”
A new pop up will appear and ask you to sign in to your Gmail account. Once you sign in it will ask your permission to view and manage your search console data.
Click on Allow. Now the code will appear. Copy that code and head back to Yoast Search Console Settings page.
Insert the code in the box found below and Click on the button against it, which says, “Authenticate” (refer to the screenshot above).
Once it successfully authenticates your connection, a drop down will appear; select your domain from the list, if it is already not selected. Make sure to select the version you want (with “www” or without “www”).
Hit the Save Profile button below.
If the process successfully completed you should now see three more tabs here – Desktop, Smartphone, Feature Phone.
The all the new tabs that appeared do the same thing. It will show you the broken and blocked URLs in your blog, separately for different platforms (Desktop, Smartphone, and Feature Phone)
Broken links can happen if you ever change the permalinks, delete any pages, or migrate your website to another host.
So, keep an eye on this section of your Yoast SEO Plugin.
You can go to each tab to check if there are any broken links, if yes, just go ahead and create a redirection to the right page.
To be able to create a redirect from here you’ll need Yoast SEO Premium. But, if you don’t want to buy Premium, use a plugin like Redirection.
Inside Settings, you have the option to reauthenticate your blog with Google Search Console.
If you ever change your Domain name, then, you might have to reauthenticate your profile. Just click the Reauthenticate with Google button and follow the same steps as above and you’ll be good.
Social Setup in Yoast SEO WP Plugin:
Similar to the other submenus, here you’ll see five tabs.
Under Accounts, you have
Your social profiles: Filling out the links to your social profiles will help Google learn about your social presence. And in the long run, this information will help Google to decide which social profiles to show in the Google Knowledge Graph.
So, fill out your social profiles accurately.
Enabling this section will enable a meta-box along with the SEO meta box inside the posts and pages editor; refer to the screenshot below:
Frontpage settings: Fill out the information accordingly.
When someone shares your homepage link to Facebook this information will replace the already defined meta tags like the title, and meta description tag and it will also override the image (if you have any on the page).
Leave this section blank if you don’t want to define separate information for the Facebook Open Graph. But it is recommended.
Here you can upload an image which will be used if you somehow forget to add an image to your posts/pages. Alternatively, if you like you can add an URL of an image hosted on some other website as well.
Twitter settings: This is similar to Facebook settings. Here you can decide how you want your twitter meta card to look like when somebody shares your posts/pages.
You have two option:
- Summary: this will simply show a post summary of your shared page or post.
- Summary with a large image: This will show a large image along with the summary (I prefer this one).
Pinterest uses the same data as Facebook. So, first, you must have to enable the Facebook Open Graph.
And, to use all the features you will have to verify your site with Pinterest.
On April 2nd, 2019 Google is going to shut down Google+ permanently. So, you can skip this section, since it will get removed eventually.
Tools – Yoast SEO:
Inside this section, you have three powerful tools from Yoast.
Import and Export: In case you want to export your Yoast SEO settings to another website you manage or want to import settings from another website to your own blog, you can do that using the Import and Export tabs found inside this tool.
Along with the Import and Export tabs, there you have one more tab Import from other SEO plugins.
If you’re using another SEO plugin like All-in-One SEO, HeadSpace2 or Jetpack SEO and now want to switch to Yoast SEO, you can migrate the existing SEO settings to Yoast using this tool.
If you don’t have any SEO plugins installed already, then, here you’ll get a message from Yoast – Yoast SEO did not detect any plugin data from plugins it can import from.
On the other hand, if you have, then, just select the existing SEO plugin from the list and check the last point Delete the old data after import? (as it can conflict with the Yoast settings) and click the import button found below.
Once the import is successfully done go to plugins and delete the existing SEO plugin that you’re not going to use anymore.
Bulk editor: With the help of this tool, you will be able to change the SEO site title and Meta descriptions of your posts and pages in bulk, without having to edit each post and page individually.
Text link counter: As we discussed at the beginning you can initiate the internal link count from here. This is a one-time thing, once initiated you don’t need to do it anymore.
Once the counting is successfully done, you’ll see a message that says, “Good job! All the links in your texts have been counted.”
I have shared with you each and every setting that you could set up in Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin. But still, it is not complete. Here, I have only covered the FREE features of this plugin.
There is a premium version of this plugin. You can compare the features here.
I am definitely going to update this guide with all the premium stuff you can do with this plugin very soon. But till then you can start using the FREE version as it has most of the features you would ever need to get started.
Till then you can go ahead and get comfortable with the FREE version as it has most of the features that you need to outrank your competitors.
Have any queries? leave it in the comment. I’ll get back to you asap.
P.S. If you found the guide helpful, please share it with your friends and family who you believe might benefit from this.