Yoast SEO is a conventionally free plugin for WordPress that is used as a basis for internal website optimization.
If you own or manage a WordPress website, Yoast SEO is a plugin you can’t miss. Perhaps you’ve already installed it but don’t know where to start, or perhaps you feel discouraged looking through all the different settings.
There are many ways to use the Yoast plugin. They can be confusing to beginners and even some SEO veterans.
As magical as the Yoast SEO plugin is, it can’t optimize your site’s content for search on its own.
Many WordPress site owners download Yoast SEO and just leave it in their plugin collection, expecting and wanting it to work for them. But it won’t!
Don’t worry – We’ll show you how to use Yoast to improve the accessibility and relevance of your WordPress site.
Before you start working with Yoast, pay attention to another plugin – Rank Math. It’s completely free and much nicer to work with than Yoast! Just the other day (by the end of August 2020) we’ll have a full guide on this plugin and a comparison with Yoast SEO on our website.
Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that helps search engines find your site’s content, and helps you, as a webmaster, shape its proper display in search results. This is accomplished by analyzing various aspects of your WordPress site’s content.
Yoast SEO is one of the best plugins for WordPress. It has been around for over a decade and is literally installed on millions of websites. Yoast also offers, a more advanced version of the plugin. Yoast SEO Premium costs €89.
This article will focus on using the free version of Yoast SEO.
Installing Yoast SEO plugin on your WordPress site
The first thing you need to do is actually install the Yoast SEO plugin itself. Go to Plugins → Add New. We suggest using a simple search on the WordPress repository, which you’ll see on the right. Type in the string – Yoast SEO.
The very first plugin found is what we will need. We press “Install”, and when the process is complete – “Activate”.
All, the plugin is ready to work. Setting Yoast is available in the tab “Yoast SEO”.
Well, now, in fact, let’s try to smoothly and slowly configure our, just installed plugin.
Setting up Yoast SEO
Do not be frightened by the many settings, which offers this plugin. It’s understandable that it can cause confusion for newcomers, but that’s why you’re reading this guide, isn’t it? Stay to the end and you’ll have an optimized site ready to dominate search engine rankings.
The Configuration Wizard
The easiest way to configure the plugin is to run the built-in setup wizard:
After you open the setup wizard, you will be prompted to answer a few questions. When you answer them, the plugin will automatically configure itself based on your answers.
Step 1: Is your site ready for indexing?
The first question determines whether you want your site to be indexed or not. The reason the question is relevant is because one of the most important checks in the plugin determines whether Google can index your site or not.
Google should be able to go into your site and index it if you don’t want it to. And there may be good reasons why you may not want it to:
- The site is still in development.
- The site is on a staging/intermediate environment.
- You just don’t want anyone to see your site.
If that’s the case, no problem! Just set your preferences in the first step of our wizard, then click “Next” to continue.
Step 2. What type of site do you have?
In the 2nd step, you will be asked about the type of your site. It could be a blog or an online store, or it could be a news site or a portfolio.
One of the reasons Yoast SEO asks this question is because you need to take a minute and think about it. What is your site about? Having a clear idea of that will help you focus on what’s important to your site.
Decide for yourself what your answer to that question should be. This will make it easier to set up some of the features of the plugin and, in fact, your site later on. For Yoast, as a plugin developer, the information they get from this question is also useful for future improvements. For example, it can help them prioritize future additions to the plugin for certain types of sites.
Step 3: Are you an individual or an organization?
To form the correct metadata, you are asked: “Who are you?”. You have to choose between an organization and an individual. Is your website about you or the organization you represent? If you are an individual, you will need to include your name. If you are a company, you can add your name and logo.
This information will be included in the metadata of your website in order to give Google, Yandex and other search engines the correct information. “Knowledge Graph” is the block of information you see on the right side of Google search results, such as when you do a company search for Sony or Apple.
In addition to your name or company name, it will ask what social profiles you have. Again, this will help give the searchers the right information for their database. Google are interested in delivering answers to their visitors right away, so you better make sure all the information is filled out.
Since social media is part of the “Knowledge Graph”, and your website is likely to be mentioned in all of your social profiles, be sure to fill this block out as much as possible.
Step 4: Should I show or not show posts and pages?
Here it’s simple, you can mark records, pages or other arbitrary types of records (if such types are registered by your theme, for example if you create an online store, then there will be another item – Products) hidden or visible to search engines. If you already know that you don’t want the entries on your site to appear in search results, you can set this to No.
Step 5: How many people publish content on your site?
In step five, Yoast SEO will want to know how many content authors are on your site. There’s a reason for this: if you only have one author on your site, WordPress will still generate author pages. And if you write all of your blog content yourself, your blog page will display the same collection of posts as your author page. Which, indeed, is duplicate content.
Content is called duplicate content if most of the page is the same as content on another page. Search engines will get confused, won’t know which page is more important, and may decide to rank all of the duplicates lower than they would like. You’ll obviously want to prevent this.
Step 6: Optimize your page header
The wizard asks you to think about your branding. The site name you enter in the first field will be the name that will be placed at the end of each default page header.
Looking ahead, let’s say that the default page header template looks like this:
%%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%
The last part of this template is
%%sitename%%, and this is what you fill out in this paragraph. Be sure to add it, but make it short so that the focus is on the title of the page or publication. The right thing to do is to use your brand name so that people can recognize your pages in search results. If they already know you and your site, they are more likely to click on one of your links.
The third part of the template is
%%sep%%, aka the separator. The title of the page created by this template will look like this: “Some kind of page title or record – Our cool company”. As a parameter
%%sep%% and as a separator in this header is a hyphen. This is just the hyphen you can replace with something else in this step. Using an unusual delimiter can make you stand out from the competition in search results.
Step 7. Get your SEO skills up to speed!
In the next step, Yoast SEO will turn your attention to the newsletter as well as some of their products. The ones they think are absolutely essential for your SEO. That’s modest, isn’t it?
About the newsletter is worth saying a few words, though:
Since SEO is an ongoing process, their goal is to keep you informed of any changes in search engine results pages, or search engine algorithms, specifically here we’re talking about Google. The newsletter will cover new developments in search, in WordPress and in Yoast – if necessary.
Step 8: Become a professional user of Yoast SEO
All of the above steps have one goal: to initially set up your site for SEO purposes. But while this wizard will help you properly configure the general settings of your plugin, your content optimization work is far from complete.
To fully utilize the Yoast SEO plugin, you must understand how it works and what settings exist. At this point, you will be invited to take a training (watch a video in English) on the Yoast SEO plugin, where you will be taught everything you need to know to get started.
You can go through all of the above steps again. Don’t worry if you originally entered something wrong. You can always fix it!
How to use Yoast SEO plugin
That’s not all! You should still take your time with the plugin, even after the installation wizard has successfully completed its work.
The first thing you need to do is to link to the site “Google Search Console” panel, you can do this by going to tab SEO → General → Webmaster Tools.
Working with the plugin
This section will give you a basic guide to Yoast so you can better understand how to navigate the plugin when creating content for your site.
It’s important to remember that the plugin helps you with ranking, but it pushes back on your content anyway. This means that you have to create content that is valuable to both users and search engines. If you’re new to optimization, but we strongly suggest you read our detailed instructions:
The most important and most common use of Yoast for search engine optimization pages and posts. To see the Yoast SEO plugin in action, create a new post (or open an old one). Scroll down the page and right after the editor window you will see Yoast SEO.
In this window, you’ll see three menu tabs: SEO, Readability, and Social Media. We will look at each of them in detail.
Keywords when setting up Yoast SEO for a post or page
Once you’ve selected your keywords and phrases, move on to the process of optimizing your post itself. In the top-right corner of the post editing screen is the “Yoast SEO” logo – click on it.
After adding the “Focus Keyword” plugin will analyze the content from the SEO perspective, determine how valuable it is, using a lot of factors: the length and density of the keys per page, the number and quality of outgoing links, as well as a dozen other factors. There is no difficulty here, just follow the recommendations of which the plugin reminds you.
Readability in Metrics is an analysis that will tell you how to optimize your content body.
The plugin uses an algorithm to check content for various factors that are proven to increase readability. Yoast looks at the use of transition words, passive voice, paragraph length and more.
In this tab, we can configure how a link to your page will look if someone posts it on social media. Try to bury a link to this guide on your wall Vkontakte and you’ll understand everything.
But you can do it in Yoast SEO only if you buy the premium version of the plugin.