Within our WordPress development team, we use the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin every day for the On-Page SEO of our websites. We think this is the most complete SEO solution to optimize a WordPress blog. With lots of options and features available, according to the majority of SEO experts, this extension is a much better alternative to its competitor All in One SEO Pack. In this article, we will show you how to install and configure Yoast WordPress SEO and how to use all the built-in features.
How to install the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin
The first thing to do is install and activate the plugin. To do this, you can read our guide on How to install a WordPress plugin. After activation, you should see a new tab appear in your administration panel called
SEO, with the Yoast logo. Now that the extension is installed and activated, let's configure it!
How to configure Yoast WordPress SEO
Yoast is a powerful SEO plugin and there are a lot of options. Don't be intimidated but also don't be afraid to experiment with different settings.
Remember that the parameters we select are the ones we recommend. Other experts may have their own preferences. Experienced users can, therefore, change what they don't like. If you are a beginner and want to use the WordPress SEO extension as we do, please follow these steps carefully. Please note, however, that this type of configuration can change depending on the type of website you have.
Turn on Some Features
In the features tab, make sure you turn on the following features:
- SEO Analysis: By checking this option, the Yoast SEO plugin will offer us suggestions to improve the SEO of our text.
- Readability Analysis: This will recommend actions to improve the style and structure of the text.
- Cornerstore Content: Although this box should be checked, it will not have a direct impact on the SEO of your website. It allows you to mark and filter the most important content on your website and thanks to this Yoast SEO will set stricter guidelines for that article or page.
- Text link counter: By activating this, the plugin will notify us of the number of internal and external links that we have on each page. This becomes a very useful functionality to optimize the external and internal link building strategies of our site.
- XML sitemap: This function will make Yoast SEO itself automatically generate a sitemap.xml for your website called Yoast SEO Sitemap. With this file you will indicate to Google which pages you want it to crawl.
- Admin bar menu: The Yoast SEO for WordPress admin bar menu contains useful links to third-party tools with which to analyze pages and make it easy to see if you have new ads.
- Security: No advanced settings for authors: This option should be checked to prevent content authors on your website from having access to advanced options, such as removing entries from search results or changing the canonical tag, among others. These privileges should only be held by the editors and administrators of our site.
Yoast SEO > Search Engine Appearance
This section together with the tools are the most important of Yoast SEO and you must pay great attention and care to each of the settings that are made since they can have a significant impact on the positioning of your website
Within the section of "Appearance in the search engine" we can find 7 tabs that we explain below:
- General In this tab, we have to put data on the page, such as: Company name: Here you must put the name of the company or person that the blog is about. Logo: Image you use for the brand. Company or person: If you are a company, select "company". Otherwise, select "person". Title separator: In this section, you can select the symbol with which you will separate the title of your page from the specific title of each URL.
Ex: “How to configure Yoast SEO for WordPress? - Online Zebra” Thus, each time we publish a page, “- Online Zebra” will appear, followed by the title we have given to that page.
- Types of content This section is essential since here we can make great options and tend to be most of the problems. Specifically, we can make 3 great options:
- Choose what content we want to be indexed by Google, that is, to appear in search results.
- Define which elements we want to appear by default in the SEO title.
- Define by default which elements we want to appear in the meta description.
We have to take into account that this section is usually very particular and there may be more or less configuration options depending on the template and the plugins you have installed. To make a correct configuration of this section you should ask yourself a question: What am I working on at the SEO level?
We give you an example:
We have an online store with the following options:
- Revolution slider
Once you have decided what types of content you want to appear on Google, it is time to modify the generic way in which they show the SEO title and meta description.
By default, the SEO title is made up of the Title, Page, Separator and Site Title elements. Instead, the meta description usually comes empty.
Our advice is that in the SEO title you just leave "Title" and the meta description leave it empty to do an individual optimization on each page. To be able to do it, you must check the box “show Yoast SEO meta box” so that within each content we edit, the Yoast SEO configuration box appears, which will allow us to easily customize the titles and meta descriptions.
- Webmaster Tools
In this tab of the Yoast SEO plugin, we can leave nothing configured if we do the Google verification through the Google Search Console. This verification is not that it will have direct effects on the SEO of our website, but that the use of said tool seems essential to carry out the tasks of our day to day.
It will also offer us the option of verifying different search engines, everything will depend on which search engines you want to index your website on. Today we know that Google is the one that takes almost the entire cake in most countries of the world.
Taxonomies are the different groups of entries or links. WordPress has some default taxonomies such as "categories" or "tags" among others. Here we will have the same options that appear in the "content types" tab, but for the different taxonomies that our website has.
The most common configuration of the taxonomy section is to mark all or almost everything as non-index, or what is the same, "do not show in search engines". Although this may vary depending on your website and whether or not you work these sections for SEO.
In this configuration tab of the Yoast SEO plugin, different options appear on the author files, by dates and special pages such as the error 404 "page not found".
These files are seldom useful for SEO and are often a common duplicate content focus on many sites. Therefore, the configuration that we usually do for our clients is as follows:
Author files: "Do not show in search results" and in the event that only one person writes or irrelevant who writes, we recommend deactivating this option.
Archives by dates: As with author archives in Yoast SEO, it's best to disable them, as long as it's not a news website.
Special pages: in this section of Yoast we usually leave everything as it comes by default.
Breadcrumbs are a navigation technique on websites that consists of a line of text indicating the route followed and the way to return. This allows the user to know the path of their location in directories and subdirectories, and navigate through it with ease.
In other words, they serve to keep the user informed of their location within the hierarchical structure of the website.
They would look like the following: Home> Page level 1> Page level 2> ...> Current page.
That said, the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress gives you the ability to activate them. However, we are not going to be able to configure them to our liking or decide what content we want to appear in.
Therefore, we recommend deactivating this option and, if you want to enable them, install the “Breadcrumb NavXT” plugin.
In this section we can adjust the RSS feed of our blog, adding content automatically. This helps us to help search engines identify us as the original source in case the content is plagiarized.
On a practical level, it consists of selecting the text that appears before and after each entry in your blog. We can leave the configuration that comes by default or add after the feed entry an html text similar to the following:
<p> The content of this article is originally from the blog of ... </p>
If you also want to add a link to your domain, we would have to insert the following code:
<p> The content of this article is originally from the blog of <a rel="nofollow> href="https://yourdomainname.com/"> yourdomainname </a> </p>
As you will see, we have put the nofollow label because the pages that "steal" your content surely do not have a very good reputation in the eyes of Google, so prevention is better than cure.
Yoast SEO > Social
Here the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress gives us the possibility to add the URLs of the main social networks. In the Facebook and Twitter tab we recommend activating the tab that appears. This will ensure that our publications show a preview with images and a text extract when a link from our site is shared.
Yoast SEO > Tools
This section will allow us to make use of some very useful technical functionalities that will simplify our tasks.
- Import and Export Here we can import the settings that we have previously saved from the Yoast SEO of another website, thus avoiding having to configure the plugin from scratch. However, each website is different, so we must check that everything is in accordance with our taste and, where appropriate, change certain aspects.
We can also export our Yoast SEO settings to our computer so that we can later import them to another website, as we have just seen above.
Finally, it also offers us the possibility of importing the configuration of other SEO plugins such as the well-known “All in One SEO Pack”, which will save us some time. But as we have already said, it is convenient to review the configuration to see that everything has been the way we want.
- File editor Through this section of the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress we can configure the file “robots.txt” without having to access FTP, in order to allow or block access to our website from the bots of the different search engines.
We can also modify the “.htaccess” file, which allows us to define the parameters of a directory on a web page without having to edit the complete server configuration file.
- Bulk editor What this functionality will allow us is to modify the title and meta descriptions of our pages and entries in a very simple way and without the need to enter each of them individually, which will save us a lot of time load.
So far we have talked about the functions that must be configured in the Yoast SEO for WordPress. Now we are going to talk about the most popular functionality of the plugin, which will allow us to improve the SEO on page of our page every time we generate content.
How to use Yoast SEO box on posts and pages
First of all, in this box we can modify the title, slug and meta description of our content, as well as write an objective keyword so that the plugin can give you some conclusions, through a system based on the colors of a traffic light to that you can improve the SEO On-Page of your page.
We also have an option called "readability analysis" in which, as its name suggests, it gives us advice when it comes to improving the readability of your page.
In the next tab of the box, we can change the specific title, meta description and image to show for Facebook and Twitter. If you do not touch this tab, the content specified in the snippet preview tab will appear.
And we go with the last tab of the Yoast SEO box for WordPress, in which we can establish a series of advanced settings. These adjustments consist of establishing if that page we want to be indexed or not, if we want them to be “dofollow” or “nofollow” links, if we are going to make advanced meta robot settings for this page (we recommend not touching anything here), and if we want to establish a canonical tag to avoid duplicate content or cannibalization of keywords.
Are we done yet?
Congratulations on making it to the end of this article. Unfortunately this is just the beginning of using the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress and just the tip of the iceberg for SEO in general. Hopefully this article got you a base knowledge of how to use Yoast and improve your WordPress website's SEO authority.