How To Setup Yoast SEO Plugin in 2023
Yoast SEO plugin is a complete on-page SEO solution for your WordPress website.
Unlike other plugins, it not only adds a simple meta tag to your website but also allows you to add custom post titles, meta descriptions, XML sitemaps and much more.
Here in this article, I will show you how you can install and set up Yoast SEO Plugin (the latest version) on your WordPress website step by step (screenshot included).
We will also see how to connect Yoast to Google Search Console so you can easily fix the crawl errors of your website.
So let’s get started.
What Is the Yoast SEO Plugin?
Yoast SEO is a popular WordPress plugin designed to help webmasters optimize their WordPress websites for search engines.
Features Of Yoast SEO Plugin
1. Change the post’s SEO title and meta description on a per-post basis.
2. Google search result snippet previews.
3. Focus keyword testing
4. Title and meta description support for taxonomies (e.g. category and tags).
5. Meta Robots configuration: Easily noindex, or nofollow pages, taxonomies or entire archives, add noodp, noydir meta tags.
6. Canonical support, adding canonical to taxonomy archives, single posts and pages and the front page.
7. Permalink clean-ups, while still allowing for Google Custom Search.
8. Breadcrumbs support.
9. XML Sitemaps.
10. robots.txt and .htaccess editor
11. Ability to verify Google Search Console, Yahoo Site Explorer, and Bing Webmaster Tools.
12. A redirect manager that allows you to easily set up redirects.
13. Internal linking suggestions
How To Install Yoast SEO Plugin
1. Go to the WordPress dashboard and click on ‘Plugins’ followed by ‘Add new’.
2. Type Yoast SEO in the search box and install the plugin.
3. Upon installation and activation, you will get a new menu item on your WordPress dashboard with the Yoast logo on it.
Our installation has been completed now we will see:
How To Set Up A Yoast SEO Plugin
Please keep in mind that the settings we choose are the ones we advise.
Advanced users can disregard anything they do not like because other professionals may have their preferences and discretion.
Please carefully follow the instructions if you’re a beginner and wish to utilise Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin in the same way as we do.
Step 1: Click on “First time SEO configuration”
If you have installed Yoast SEO for the very first time then you will get a configuration option as shown below. Just click on it.
Upon clicking, a new wizard will open which will be divided into 12 sections. We will go one by one.
So, first of all, hit on “Configure Yoast SEO”.
Next, Yoast will ask you if your site is ready to be indexed or not. Select “Option A” and click on Next.
Now choose the type of your site.
For example: If you are installing Yoast for your blogging site then select “Blog”. If you are installing for your e-commerce website then select “online shop” and so on.
Move to the next section, here you have to choose whether you are installing Yoast for your registered company or as a person.
Since I am installing Yoast for my blogging site I have selected the second option.
However, If you are installing it for your registered company then select the first option and fill in the details.
In the next section fill out the social presence of your website and move to the next page.
It’s a very important section. These settings determine what type of content from your website should appear in the search engine.
Make sure you have chosen “Yes” for both posts and pages.
If your site has multiple authors then hit on “Yes” else select “No”.
From sections 8 to 12, click on next…next…next and close the wizard. We will customize it later.
Step 2: Go To Admin Area And Click On General
We don’t have to do anything here. Generally, it shows if your site has any issues related to SEO.
You can keep the settings as it is shown in the below screenshot. However, I have explained the functionality just go through it once.
Below is the screenshot of each feature that you will find while writing the new post.
This section offer suggestions to improve the SEO of your web page.
It analyses the complete structure of the web page.
It includes word complexity, passive voice, keyphrase used, subheading distribution, transition word, sentence length etc.
Cornerstone content should be the most important and extensive article on your site.
Text Link Counter
It helps in counting all internal and external links of the web page.
Here you will find relevant data about your content. You’ll also see what words you use most often and if they match your keywords.
The link suggestions meta box shows a list of posts on your blog with similar content that might be interesting to link to.
It Provides relevant internal linking suggestions — while you’re writing!
It enables the XML sitemaps that Yoast SEO generates.
This is a very very important setup for your website.
A sitemap is a file where you can list the web pages of your website to tell the search engine about the organization of your site content.
Search engine web crawlers like Googlebot read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.
So make sure that ‘ XML Sitemap functionality ‘ is enabled.
A typical sitemap looks like the below screenshot.
If you need help in finding/ adding XML Sitemap in WordPress you can check our article on how to add an XML sitemap to the WordPress website.
Admin Bar Menu
The Yoast SEO admin bar menu contains useful links to third-party tools for analyzing pages and makes it easy to see if you have new notifications.
Security: No Advanced Settings For Authors
A user can delete content from the search results or modify the canonical in the Yoast SEO meta box’s advanced section.
A user can modify the schema metadata for a post using the settings in the schema tab.
You might not want an author to accomplish any of these things. Because of this, only editors and administrators have access by default.
All users can modify these settings if they are set to “Off.”
Usage tracking allows Yoast Plugin to track some data about your site to improve the plugin internally.
It depends on you if you want to share your data. I don’t recommend enabling it.
REST API: Head Endpoint
This Yoast SEO REST API endpoint gives you all the metadata you need for a specific URL.
This will make it very easy for headless WordPress sites to use Yoast SEO for all their SEO meta output.
Enhanced Slack Sharing
When you enable the Enhanced Slack sharing feature, Yoast SEO will output two sets of labels + values in each post’s metadata.
This will improve how a URL from your site looks when shared on Slack.
This premium feature automatically pings search engines like Bing and Yandex whenever you publish, update or delete a post.
Yoast SEO can integrate with third-party products. You can enable or disable these integrations from this page.
4. Webmaster Tools
Popular search engines allow site owners to add their sites using the webmaster’s tools area.
The webmaster tool helps in identifying issues with the website and can also let you know if your site is infected with malware.
Yoast SEO makes it easier to verify your website with all top search engines.
To make things even easier, I have made a separate post on how to add your site to Google webmaster tools.
Once you get your meta tag (“verification code”) insert that code in the respective place.
5. Crawl Settings
Yoast SEO Premium gives you the option to remove URLs (added by WordPress) that might not be necessary for your site to increase the efficiency and environmental friendliness of the crawling of your website.
6. First-time Configuration
If you have installed it for the very first time then you will get a configuration wizard option else you will see all the completed steps or get the option to edit them.
Step 3: Go To Search Appearance And Customize Each Section
Search Appearance in Yoast SEO settings controls how your website appears in search results.
This includes several options for your homepage, single articles, archives, and taxonomies.
We’ll walk you through each one of them. Let’s start with the general settings first.
Title Separator – Here you can choose a separator symbol for your website title.
Although you will get a different option it will be great if you stick with the default option (Dash). Choosing different symbols might confuse your visitors. So, keep it simple.
Homepage & Post page – Here you will get an option to customize the title and meta description of your homepage and blog page for better search engine visibility.
If you are using a static homepage and blog page for your website then you will get a link to edit the title and description of your webpage (as shown below).
Click on the editing link, a new page will open from where you can easily customize your metadata to improve the SEO of your web page.
Homepage – If you are a beginner you might get confused by seeing this section but not to worry I will explain what this is all about.
By default, the SEO title template will be pre-filled by some text commonly known as snippet variables.
This snippet variable allows you to define the way that the title is pulled and organized.
However, if you don’t want to use a snippet then simply erase it and add the homepage title and meta description manually.
Focus Keyphrase – Here, you can enter the keyword or keyphrase you’d like the page to rank for in Google.
Yoast SEO will run a check on the page’s content to see if search engines will recognize what it is about.
Insert Snippet Variable – It’s a template used for SEO titles and meta descriptions.
In case you forgot to add a title and meta description to your post this snippet variable will automatically create one for your post.
Knowledge Graph And Schema.org – Google’s primary business is to provide people with accurate answers to all of their questions.
To accomplish this, it not only displays the result that most closely matches a search term but also makes broader connections between data.
As a result, Google collects and analyses massive amounts of data on people, places, things, and facts, and then develops ways to present the findings understandably.
So fill out this section carefully. It’s self-explanatory.
The block that appears on the right-hand side of your desktop screen after entering a search term is the data pulled from the knowledge graph and schema org.
2. Content Types
Show Post/ Pages In Search Results – It controls whether you want the posts or pages to be indexed in the search engine or not.
Yoast SEO Meta Box – It allows you to optimize pages, posts, and blog categories. So keep it enabled.
SEO Title/ Meta Description – Like the Homepage tab, Yoast SEO allows you to set default descriptions for your post and page.
If you forget to add a title and meta description for an individual post then this site-wide title and description will be used.
But for better SEO results I strongly recommend you manually enter the title and meta description for each post and page.
Schema Settings – Yoast SEO automatically describes your pages using schema.org. This helps search engines to understand your website and your content.
For users who’d like more granular control, its schema controls can be used to change how you describe your content to search engines, based on your own logic and content types.
For example, you may wish to describe your website’s “About” page specifically as an “About Page” (using AboutPage schema), which is more precise than the default value of “Web Page” (WebPage schema).
Set the media to ‘Yes’ and it’s highly recommended.
In the taxonomies tab, you will get an option for indexing and non-indexing of your categories, tags, and format.
Categories, Tags, Format and other non-useful content should usually not be shown in search results.
Hence, I strongly recommend you keep all the buttons at no index.
Because if you index your categories, tags, and format you are simply telling the search engine that you have too many posts however it is just a duplicate of the post you have already indexed.
If you are running a single author blog or website then keep the ‘Author archive’ button disabled.
Because the main blog and author archives contain the exact same content, so making it enable is like fooling the search engine.
However, if your website is a multi-author blog then you can enable it.
Special Page Settings
Breadcrumbs define a clear path to the page you are on. Because of breadcrumb, your visitors can easily find out how they are navigating the website.
Click on ‘Enable’ and keep the default setting as it is.
RSS Features are used to add backlinks to your blog or blog post.
When content scrapers copy content from your site it automatically adds a back-link to your website, helping a search engine identify you as the original source of content.
Step 4: Social
The social platform helps you in increasing your website traffic.
Having said that Yoast SEO allows you to integrate your website with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and many other social networking sites.
To integrate with social networking site, you need to click on the ‘Social’ link under the SEO menu. Upon clicking, a new window will open with a different tab. I will show you how to configure each of them.
In the account tab, you need to provide the URL of your social networking site associated with your website.
However, if your website is configured to represent a Person then you need to edit the social accounts for your site by visiting the user profile of the selected person.
On the Facebook tab, enable ‘ Open graph metadata ‘. This will help Facebook to pick up relevant thumbnails and page information when your website is shared on Facebook.
Create a default thumbnail image in the “Default image” section. All posts without images will automatically use this image as their default thumbnail.
Here you can choose the card type of Twitter. I strongly recommend choosing the second option i.e ‘Summary with large image’ since a large image attracts visitors.
If you are using Pinterest and want to add it to your website then you need to verify it by adding the meta tag.
To do so, simply go to your Pinterest account settings to add and verify your site. You will get a meta tag that you have to paste here.
Once the metadata is enabled for each social network, you can customize the title, meta description and images of each post/ page individually by using the Yoast SEO analysis section “share icon” link available in the Yoast box.
Step 5: Tools
Under ‘Tool’s tab’ you will get three options:
1. Bulk editor: It allows you to edit the title and descriptions of the post in bulk without opening each and every single post.
2. File editor: Here you can edit the .htaccess file and can create a robots.txt file. If you are a beginner and don’t know what is this all about, I urge you to stay away from these settings.
3. Import and export: If you have another website and want to import all the settings of your Yoast plugin from that site then you can do it from here and vice versa.
That’s it our Yoast SEO setup has been completed.
However, you will also get a Premium option in the sidebar of your Yoast SEO setup.
You really don’t need it if you’re just starting out or on a tight budget. However, keep reading if you actually want to upgrade your Yoast SEO plugin.
Step 6: Premium
The cost of the Premium version of the Yoast SEO plugin is $99/ year (ex. tax) which provides extra features like:
- Internal Linking Suggestions
- Content Insights
- Redirect Manager
- Multiple Focus Keyword
- Import Export of Yoast Settings.
Here is head to head comparison between Premium and Free versions of Yoast SEO.
Preview of Your Page – If you are curious to know how your pages will look when someone will share them on social networking sites then it will help you see how it looks directly from Yoast.
Keyword Optimization ( Multiple Focus Keywords) – Free version of Yoast allows you to set a single Focus Keyword but in a premium version, you can set up to 5 keywords to optimize your content.
Internal Link Suggestions – Yoast will automatically analyze your content and suggest you some internal links for your content.
An internal link is extremely important because it helps search engines to understand your site structure easily.
Content Insight– It will show the list of 5 words or a combination of a word that appears most often on your post.
That way you can check if the topic you are writing is well optimized around your focus keyword or not.
Redirect Manager– Admit it, we all have to delete some pages or post at some point. But when that old URL gets visitors, they will land on 404 pages!
To avoid this, you can redirect your visitors to a new page with the relevant information.
Redirect Manager by Yoast allows you to do it very easily. You just have to enter the old URL and the New URL where you want to redirect your visitors.
However, there are also a few free Redirects plugin that does exactly the same thing as Yoast.
Premium Support– If you need additional help from Yoast then you can directly email them your query and they will help you in resolving your issue.
Step 7: Content Optimization
How to configure the posts and pages with Yoast SEO
The first step to optimizing content is to find the best keyword for your website. Just go through our comprehensive guide on how to find the best keyword for a website if you really want to find a suitable Focus Keyword for your website.
As you can see, we put quite a bit of time into installing and configuring this plugin, but it is still insufficient.
In order to get the maximum benefit of Yoast SEO, you need to manually customize each post or page of your website.
Now when you open any post or page you will see a new meta box below the post editor, it allows you to write a custom SEO title and meta descriptions for the respective post.
Make sure to enter a focus keyphrase, so you will get an idea, of how strong your post is for that keyword.
When you fill in all the details you can see the respective post score in the analysis tab:
- A green dot means better
- The yellow dot means average and
- The red dot means poor.
Try to get a green dot but don’t get obsessed, it’s OK if you will not get everything green, that’s perfectly fine.
Focus Keyword– It’s a target keyword of your content. Once you add your focus keyword, Yoast will evaluate the page or post and how well you have optimized your content around your main keyword.
Keyword Density – It will let you know how many times you have used your target keyword in your content. The ideal percentage is 2%.
Keyword in Subheading – If your article requires the main keyword in the subheading then use it else don’t insert it forcefully – it looks spammy.
Page Title – Insert your keyword here – try to put it at the beginning of the title.
URL – Keep your URL short but meaningful.
SEO Title – The title that searchers will see on the search engine result page. So, try to write your title attractive in 50-60 characters. And don’t forget to add the keyword to it.
Meta Description – A short summary of your content in 150 -160 characters that searchers will see on the search engine result page. And yeah don’t forget to include the keyword.
Image Alt Text – Google can’t see the images of your content it can only identify it by the alt text used in it. So, describe the image properly.
Internal/ External Links – Having a few natural internal and external links in your content gives a positive signal to Google that you are trying to provide full information to your visitors.
So add a few links and make sure they are informative and related to the topic.
Text Contains –By default Yoast recommends 300 words but having a long post with more than 2000 words generally performs better on the search engine result page. Because it improves the Dwell Time.
Now the big question!!
How You Will Write A Comprehensive And Perfectly Optimized Post
So here is an awesome infographic that will definitely guide you in writing a comprehensive SEO optimized post.
You are free to download and share this infographic with your friends.
In the same way, you can customize your other pages and posts.
I hope this guide has helped you in installing and setting up Yoast SEO plugins.
If you have any questions ask me any time in the comment section below.
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FAQs On Yoast SEO Plugin
Yoast SEO is one of the most widely popular WordPress plugin.
Whether you’re running a personal blog or you’re a SEO professional managing a website for a client, Yoast is a powerful tool that can help you make your site as search engine-friendly as possible.