WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin is one of the must-have plugins on any WordPress website (that is not hidden from the public eye).
It has been on our Recommended Plugins list since day 1. If you care about your website’s performance in Search Engines and you haven’t installed it yet, this tutorial is for you.
Why do I need this plugin?
WordPress itself doesn’t have built-in features that would allow the admin to micromanage SEO aspects of a website in a convenient manner, such as page titles, meta tags, sitemaps, etc.
Thankfully this mega-popular plugin gets the job well done.
How to install the plugin
- Go to Dashboard > Plugins > Add New.
- Write WordPress SEO by Yoast in the Search box.
- Click the Install Now link.
- A pop-up alert box will ask if you really want to install the plugin, click OK.
- In a few seconds the plugin will be automatically downloaded and installed. All that is left is to click on Activate Plugin.
Setting up the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin
After activating the plugin, a new SEO menu item will appear in the Dashboard.
Below I will point out some of the most important settings that you should configure and pay attention to. Of course the importance of these may vary by case, but it should paint a general picture.
When visiting the SEO tab for the first time, the plugin might suggest changing your Permalinks structure, in Dashboard > Settings > Permalinks.
According to a general consensus it is best to use the Post Name permalink structure.
If using a theme by HermesThemes, in Dashboard > SEO > Titles & Metas > General, there is no need to check the Force Rewrite Titles check-box, you can leave it blank.
THE MOST IMPORTANT SETTING, DON’T MISS IT
It is imperative that you don’t forget to set your info in Dashboard > SEO > Titles & Metas > Home. This is your most valuable online real-estate, use it wisely. I suggest going with something similar to the screen-shot below.
It is recommended to keep your Title 6-9 words short, with a maximum of 70 characters.
Search engines display a maximum of 156 characters from the Meta Description tag, so keep your description short and tailored for humans, not robots. A nice, readable description will go a long way.
Not much needs to be tweaked in Dashboard > SEO > Titles & Metas > Taxonomies, but I do suggest checking the “noindex, follow” check-boxes for Tags and Format.
In Dashboard > SEO > Titles & Metas > Other, I suggest checking the “noindex, follow” check-boxes for Author and Date Archives. Additionally, in 99% cases it is a good idea to disable both of them as well.
Why do this? Using Author and Date archives can lead to a lot of duplicate content on your website, and you don’t want that.
In Dashboard > SEO > Social > Facebook, you can set an image that will show up on Facebook when someone will like or share your homepage. We use an image with our logo, so as to keep our presence consistent. You can try using your logo as well, or maybe a photo of your property. Just keep in mind that usually this photo will be displayed at a small size, so don’t try to display text or other stuff. A square-format logo should work best.
If you are on Twitter, go to Dashboard > SEO > Social > Twitter and fill in your existing Twitter Username. Don’t add the @ in front of it, just the username. We obviously use our hermesthemes Twitter username.
In Dashboard > SEO > XML Sitemaps, you can enable automatic XML Sitemaps, which is always a good idea. Below are the settings that I would use for a hotel’s website:
And the final page to tweak a little is Dashboard > SEO > Permalinks. Below are the settings that I use on all of my WordPress websites:
At the first glance all these settings and options may seem overwhelming, but in reality, all it takes is some patience and attention to details. Most of the check-boxes and options have clear descriptions, so make sure to read them all.
This tutorial was written for the 1.4.22 version of the plugin.