Step 4: Setting Up Yoast For SEO
If you have been following the 30 Day Challenge to make money from your blog, you have signed up for a hosting account with WP Engine, learned how to install WordPress on your hosting account and set up an email marketing plan. Hopefully you have also changed the logos and some of the content to match what you are going to blog about.
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Everyone knows you need some type of SEO for your website or blog. My personal preference is WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. I have been using Yoast because it is the most complete SEO solution for WordPress websites. So, in step 4, I will show you how to install and set up Yoast SEO and utilize all the awesome features that come with it.
Some Awesome Features
Here is just a quick overview of some of the kick ass features:
- Change post’s SEO title and meta description on a per post basis.
- Title and meta description support taxonomies.
- Google search result snippet previews.
- Focus keyword testing.
- Meta Robots configuration
- Easily add noodp, noydir meta tags.
- Easily noIndex, or nofollow pages, taxonomies or entire archives.
- Improved canonical support, adding canonical to taxonomy archives, single posts and pages and the front page.
- RSS footer / header configuration.
- Permalink clean ups, while still allowing for Google Custom Search.
- Breadcrumbs support, with configurable breadcrumb titles.
- SML Sitemaps with:
- Configurable removal of post types and taxonomies
- Pages or posts that have been noIndexed will not show in XML sitemap (but can if you want them mtoo).
- XML News Sitemaps.
- .htaccess and robots.txt editor.
- Ability to verify Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo Site Explorer, and Bing Webmaster Tools.
There is also a premium version of the Yoast SEO and comes with even more features!
- A redirect manager that allows you to easily set up redirects.
- Video tutorials to help you understand each feature of the plugin.
- Premium support provided by the folks at Yoast to help you make the most out of your site’s SEO.
So, Let’s Dive In
The first thing you need to do is install and activate the Yoast SEO plugin. Just go to Plugins > Add New and search for Yoast SEO. Once installed and Activated you will notice a new menu item in your WordPress admin bar labeled SEO with the Yoast SEO logo on it.
Do you have it installed? Awesome, now let’s take a look at how to properly setup this very powerful plugin.
Click on the SEO icon in the admin menu and this will take you to the settings page for the plugin. Look for the General tab, see it? Click on it and you will notice a button to open the configuration wizard. Let’s ignore this for now, because in this post I am going to take you step by step through each option so you have a better understanding of how powerful this plugin really is.
Go ahead and click on the Features tab and enable the advanced settings page.
Remember to click on the save changes button to save your settings.
Once saved, you will notice a few new items appear under the SEO option in your WordPress Menu.
These new items are Titles and Meta, XML Sitemaps, Social, Advanced, and tools. We will dig into these a little bit later on in the post.
Now go to the Your Info tab. Here you will provide information about your site and yourself, or your company. First provide a site name and an alternate name for search engines to consider.
If you don’t enter anything here, then Yoast SEO will automatically use your site’s title as your website name. Search engines like Google will display this information in search results so if you don’t want to use your site title, fill it in.
Next you choose if the website is run by a company or an individual person. If you choose company, then you will be asked to provide a company name, and you can also upload a company logo.
If you choose a person, then you can add the name of the person behind the website.
Even if you don’t know too much about SEO, you probably have heard that each of the popular search engines, Google, Bing, Yandex and Alexa allow site owners to add their sites using webmaster tools. Webmaster tools let you see insights and other relevant data about your site from specific search engines.
If you want to verify your site and see the data, you will need to either add a meta tag to your site or upload a file.
Now head on over to the Security tab. There is only one option here which disables the advanced part of the WordPress SEO meta box. I suggest you leave it disables if you have more than one person writing on your blog. This way other authors will not be able to make changes like noIndex and canonical settings.
Titles & Metas
There are several tabs under the Titles & Metas screen, so let’s start with the first one.
This is where you can choose the symbol you want to use as a separator between titles. The default option is a dash.
You can also disable readability and keyword analysis tab which appear under the Yoast SEO metabox when you are writing a post. I suggest you leave them enabled.
Now let’s work on defining the title of our homepage. For your homepage you will want to create a static title, description and keywords. On the other hand for posts, the title will vary from one post to another.
The title template allows you to define a way that the title and other meta information is pulled and organized.
Post Types Titles & Metas
WordPress comes with several post types such as post, page, revisions, attachment and navigation menus. If you have custom post types you can also define those.
With Yoast SEO, you can set titles and meta for posts, media, pages and other custom post types. This is a site-wide setting and would be used if you forgot to add title and meta descriptions for individual posts.
I suggest leaving the description fields blank for all post types and only setting the post title as the title template.
If you want to get maximum SEO benefits, I recomment you manually enter title and descriptions for each post, page and custom post type on your site.
The taxonomies tab is where you can configure title and meta for categories, tabs, custom taxonomies and post format archives. The default template variables should work for most sites.
For the archives tab, you have title and meta settings for author and date archive pages and special pages like search and 404 pages.
I suggest that you check disable author archives for single author blogs.
In the other tab there are some additional settings. You can disable picking up descriptions from Dmoz or Yahoo directories for your pages. I usually just leave them all unchecked.
As you know, Yoast SEO is pretty kick ass and has so many features that provide the best optimization for your site.
One of the best features is that it integrates your site with Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ platforms. So let’s check the Social link under the SEO menu.
You will see the first tab is Accounts under Social. If you have these accounts for your blog enter them here because this will tell Google about your social profiles. Just add the URLs and Twitter username for the main social profiles of your site.
Now onto the Facebook tab. Make sure that the open graph meta data option is enabled. This will allow WordPress SEO to add Facebook open graph meta data in your website’s <head> section. This means Facebook will pick up the right thumbnail and page information when a post from your website is shared on Facebook.
Next you need to provide a thumbnail for your homepage with SEO title and description. The image and description will be used when someone shares the homepage of your site on Facebook.
This information will be used by default for any articles that do not have a thumbnail or any other image in it.
Next is to associate your website with a Facebook profile. This profile can be a user profile or a Facebook app. I recommend a Facebook profile.
You can add a Facebook admin which will give you access to Facebook Insights for your site.
Twitter, Pinterest & Google+
Those next tabs are all pretty simple just as the Facebook tab. I think you guys get the idea behind setting Facebook up so you can easily set up the rest if you have them.
You definitely need a sitemap for your WordPress site. It really is the quickest and easiest way to get indexed and notify search engines about your content.
Yoast makes this process so easy! So, just make sure your XML Sitemaps are enabled. Then click on User Sitemap and make sure that author/user sitemap is disabled. Next move on to post type tab and disable any post type that you don’t want to be included into sitemaps.
Now just repeat the same process for taxonomies.
The excluded posts tab allows you to remove individual posts, pages, or custom post types from XML sitemap. Simply enter the post IDs in the field and save the changes.
The advanced settings will allow you to configure breadcrumbs, permalinks, and RSS feed related settings.
Breadcrumbs can be great for internal linking because it defines a clean path or trail to the page you are on. Breadcrumbs also appear in search results giving your site extra advantage in the search.
Make sure you click on Enables, this will reveal more breakcrumb settings.
I usually just leave the default settings as they work for most websites but if you want to change something go ahead. Remember to save your changes.
You should have already set your permalink structure up in the Settings menu and Yoast already assumes that you have done that.
WordPress by default adds a category base in each category url, i.e. /category/.
I suggest clicking Remove so you can remove that part from your category URLs. many people do this.
Next is to redirct attachment URLs to parent post. When you add images and other media to posts they get their own URLs which in most cases are unnecessary. So if you check this box, you will redirect all your attachment page URL to the original post URL. So, if your image shows up in Google Image search and someone clicks, it will go to the post!
Now let’s remove stop words from permalinks. Stop words are those common words used in plain language. Yoast believes that by removing these, you will create cleaner URLs. This can be true but I am not 100% sure I agree with them. If you are trying to gain traffic through Long Tail Keywords I would leave it unchecked.
Redirect ugly URLs to clean permalinks option is not needed in most cases. I suggest you ignore it unless you know what you’re doing.
RSS Feeds are often used by content scrapers to copy content from your website. Yoast SeO allows you to add a backlink to your own site for each post in your RSS Feed.
This way, you will get backlinks from their site, and Google will know that you are the original source.
The options are to add your author link, Post link, Blog Link and blog description. So get creative. This can also be used to add advertisement to your RSS feed.
Once you have all the perfect settings for your site, it might be a good idea to export the settings as a backup, just in case you accidentally mess things up in the future. You can also export settings to use it as an initial guideline for all of your future sites that you are going to use with this plugin.
The bulk editor allows you to edit post titles and descriptions in bulk. I don’t ever use this. Duplicate descriptions and titles can cause damage to your SEO.
The other tool here is the file editor, I recommend beginners and even some intermediate level users to stay away from these settings. One tiny mistake can make your site inaccessible for search engines or make it useless.
This section of the Yoast SEO plugin allows you to connect your WordPress site to Google Search Console tools (formerly webmaster tools).
You can add your WordPress site to Google webmaster tools and then verify it using Yoast SEO plugin.
All you have to do is click on the Get Google Authorization Code and you will be redirected to Search Console website where you will get a code. Copy this code and enter it in the plugin settings to complete verification. After you are verified, you will be asked to select a profile. Just select your website from a dropdown menu.
After that Yoast will fetch your Search Console data and put it into WordPress. You will be able to see Desktop, Mobile, Feature Phone tabs on the screen.
This is where you can see crawl errors related to your website and make them fixed after setting up redirects.
And that folks, is how to set up Yoast SEO for WordPress. It really isn’t too hard and it add so much optimization to your blog! You will certainly be amazed on how well it works.
Now the basic Yoast SEO plugin is free and works really well for millions of WordPress sites all around the world. However, it does come with an even more powerful Premium Version. For the 30 Day Challenge we are going to stick with the free version because we are not in the position to spend money, at least not yet until our blog starts bringing in some revenue streams.
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