Best Settings for the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin - 2015 Version

Yoast SEO plugin is one of the best on-page optimization plugin for wordpress, the close second being the all-in-one SEO plugin. If you have installed the Yoast plugin and you are struggling with the settings then this article is for you. I have tried to simplify the settings so you can quickly configure your plugin and make your blog SEO friendly. So let's get started.

Once you install the plugin, you should be able to see the 'SEO' link in the left sidebar of your WordPress dashboard. Click on this link to get started. Note that the version of the plugin used for this tutorial is version 2.3.4 released on the 6th of August 2015.

General Settings

Start by going to SEO > General, click on the Your Info tab and enter the following values.

a.) Website Name: Enter your website name here. You can leave the alternate name field empty.

b.) Company or person: If your blog represents a company, select company, Enter your company name and upload your company logo. If on the other hand, this is a personal blog, then select person and enter your name. (refer image below)

Yoast general settings

Titles and Metas

Go to SEO > Titles & Meta and do the following:

1.) Homepage: Click on the homepage tab. This tab let's you set a title tag format for the homepage. The default format is set to display your sitename followed by the page number (if it's a paginated page), followed by your chosen separator, followed by the site description.

%%sitename%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitedesc%%
Note: The sitename is the text that you enter in Settings > General > Site Title and the site description is the text you enter in Settings > General > Tagline.

The Yoast plugin makes use of your site's tagline (site description) as the meta description tag for the homepage. The same tagline is also used in the homepage title tag. Therefore it is best to remove this from the title tag by removing %%sitedesc%% from the format as follows:

%%sitename%% %%page%%

Or if you do not want to use the sitename and want to use a custom title, you can use:

Your Custom Title Tag %%page%%

2.) Taxonomies: Click on the Taxonomies tab and check the Meta Robots check-box for Categories, Tags and Format (post formats). This will block these archive pages from getting indexed.

Yoast seo - taxonomies

Note: If you want to allow the first page of any of these taxonomy archives to be crawled and block only the paginated sub-pages, refer point 4 below.

3.) Archives: Click on the Archives tab and under 'Duplicate Content Prevention', check the 'Add noindex, to the author archives' and 'Add noindex, to date archives'.

Duplicate content prevention

4.) Other: Click on the other tab and check the 'Noindex subpages of archives' check box.

meta settings

This can be helpful if your homepage is paginated as it will add a noindex tag to all your paginated pages.

This can also be helpful if you want to add a noindex tag only to the sub-pages of your archives and allow the first page to be crawled.

For example, to do this for category archives, Go to the taxonomies tab (point 2) and un-check the Meta robots checkbox.

The first page of all your category pages will now be indexed; the paginated sub-pages will not be indexed as they will have the noindex tag added as shown below: - Will be indexed - Will not be indexed - Will not be indexed - Will not be indexed


Next click on SEO > Social. The social section allows you to add Facebook OG (Open Graph) tags, twitter cards and Google authorship information within the head section of your website.

1.) Accounts: Click on the Accounts tab and add your social media profile links. The two important ones to add are your facebook Page URL and twitter username as these will be used in facebook OG tags (og:publisher) and twitter cards (twitter:site).

Social account settings

Note: If you don't have any social media accounts, you can skip the social section altogether.

2.) Facebook: Click on the Facebook tab and make sure that the 'Add Open Graph meta data' is checked.

Yoast facebook settings

  • Frontpage settings: This allows you to add a og image, title and description for your blog's homepage. You can upload a generic image for your site here. You can leave the title and description fields empty if you want the plugin to use your default sitename and description.
  • Default Settings: Upload a generic image which can be used as a fallback image for your single post pages in-case your post does not contain any images. You can upload the same image that you uploaded for the frontpage.
  • Facebook Insights and Admins: Click on 'Add Facebook Admin' and enter your Admin's name and Admin's Facebook User ID if you would like to track you facebook usage using facebook insights.

3.) Twitter: Go to the Twitter tab and make sure that the 'Add twitter card meta data' is checked. If your site is verified with twitter, and you want your twitter post previews to have a larger display image, then select the 'Summery with large image' option. If not, leave it to 'Summery'.

4.) Google Plus: Click the Google Plus tab and check the 'Add Google+ specific post meta data' section and add your Google plus profile link for the 'Google Publisher Page' field.

Google plus settings

XML Sitemaps

Go to SEO > XML Sitemaps. This section allows you to add a XML Sitemap to your blog.

Check the Check this box to enable XML sitemap functionality checkbox and click on save changes. The plugin will auto-generate your sitemap which you can view by visiting (Make sure to replace with your domain name.)

You might want to add a link to this sitemap in your Robots.txt file as follows:

User-agent: *

In addition to that, you can also submit your sitemap to Google using your Google search console (Google webmaster tools). To do this, login to your Google search console, go to Crawl > Sitemaps and click on 'Add/Test Sitemap', enter your sitemap URL and then click on 'Submit Sitemap'.


This section allows you to add breadcrumbs to your blog and also allows you to add some extra rules for permalinks and RSS feeds.

1.) Breadcrumbs: I am not a huge fan of breadcrumbs but they can give your blog some SEO advantage in the SERPs as Google uses this information while displaying search results.

The image below showcases breadcrumbs being displayed in a search result:

Breadcrumbs SERP

If you would like to enable breadcrumbs you will need to copy and paste the following function anywhere you want the breadcrumb to appear.

if ( function_exists( 'yoast_breadcrumb' ) ) {

Once done, click on 'Enable Breadcrumbs' and select 'category' as the Taxonomy to show in breadcrumbs for post types and click save changes.

For more information read this detailed article by Yoast.

2.) Permalinks: Click on the permalinks tab and do the following:

a.) Change URLs: The wordpress category base ends up in a 404 which is why it is a good idea to strip the category base.

Wordpress strip category base

For example: Let's take the following category link:

If someone where to visit the main category page, which is, then they would receive a 404 error.

If you want to prevent this from happening check on the Strip the category base (usually /category/) from the category URL box. Although you can easily prevent this by adding a page with the slug 'category'.

The Redirect attachment URL's to parent post URL can be left unchecked.
b.) Clean up permalinks: Under this option, uncheck the 'Remove stop words from slugs' and check the Remove the ?replytocom variables if you are using wordpress comments.

yst clean permalinks

c.) Clean up the <head>: Check all boxes here. This will remove unwanted tags from within your blog's head section.

Clean WP head

3.) RSS: This option can be left as it is.


The tools option (SEO > Tools) allows you to edit your robots.txt and htaccess files.

1.) Bulk Editor: The bulk editor link allows you to edit single posts to add custom title tags and meta tags.

2.) File Editor: This link allows you to edit your robots.txt and htaccess file. If you do not have a robots.txt file on your site, click on the file editor link,paste your robots.txt file there and click on save changes to robots.txt. Here's an example of a simple robots.txt file for wordpress you can use:

User-agent: *
Allow: /wp-content/uploads/
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/
Disallow: /cgi-bin/
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /wp-includes/
Disallow: /xmlrpc.php
Disallow: /readme.html
Disallow: /comments/feed/
Disallow: /trackback/

#replace sitename with your domain name.

3.) Import and Export: You can import or export your plugin settings using this link.

Note: You can override these sitewide settings for individual posts/pages and categories by editing the post/page/category and scrolling down to the Yoast SEO section.

Related Article:
Ultimate WordPress SEO Checklist


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