Best Settings for the Yoast SEO Plugin (2017 Version)

Yoast SEO plugin is one of the best on-page optimization plugins 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.

The version of the plugin used for this tutorial is version 4.2.1 last updated in February 2017.

This version of Yoast comes with two options as follows:

  • Auto Configuration: This option takes you through a step by step configuration interface.
  • Advanced Settings: This option allows you to manually configure the settings.

In this tutorial, we are going to see how to configure the plugin using advanced settings. Advanced settings gives you maximum flexibility and is definitely recommended as compared to the auto configuration.

Here's a list of items covered in this tutorial:

  1. Company Info
  2. Auto Configuration
  3. Enabling advanced settings
  4. Title's and Metas
    1. General: General settings for your blog's title tags.
    2. Homepage: Setting title tags and metas for your blog's homepage.
    3. Post Types: Setting title tags/metas for Single post, Pages, Media and Custom post pages.
    4. Taxonomies: Setting title tags/metas for taxonomies like Categories, tags and Formats
    5. Archives: Setting title tags/metas for Archive Pages - Author, Date archive etc.
    6. Others
  5. Yoast SEO social settings
    1. Accounts: Adding social media accounts.
    2. Facebook: Adding Facebook OG Tags.
    3. Twitter: Adding Twitter Cards.
    4. Google Plus: Adding Google Plus Profile Link.
  6. XML Sitemaps
  7. Advanced
    1. Breadcrumbs: Configuring breadcrumbs.
    2. Permalinks: Setting rules for permalinks.
    3. RSS
  8. Tools
    1. Bulk Editor: Bulk editing title and meta descriptions for all single posts
    2. File Editor: Editing robots.txt file.
    3. Import and Export
  9. Search Console

1.) Company Info/Your Info

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.

Now go to the Company Info/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.

2.) Auto Configuration

As mentioned earlier, this version of Yoast plugin has an auto configuration option for beginners.

To reach this option, just click on the General Tab and then click on 'Open the Configuration Wizard' and follow the instructions.

If you are going to use the auto configuration method, then this tutorial will not be of much use to you because in this tutorial we are going to look at manually configuring the plugin using advanced settings. So let's see how we can do that.

3.) Enable Advanced Settings

To enable advanced settings, click on the Features tab and then click Enabled under the Advanced Settings Pages.

Now click on 'Save Changes'.

Once you click on 'Save Changes', you should be able to see more options in the left sidebar under 'Yoast SEO' as shown in the image below:

4.) Titles & Metas

Select 'Titles & Metas' from the sidebar and configure the following options.

a.) General

Under the 'General Tab' select a symbol that will be used as a separator in your site's title tags. This can be any symbol, I personally prefer the 'hyphen'.

b.) Homepage

Under the 'Homepage' tab, enter the title tag and your site's description. This title tag and description will be displayed on your site's homepage only.

c.) Post Types

You can leave all settings as it is under the Posts, Pages and Custom Post sections. Just make sure that 'Meta Robots' is set to 'Index' in all these sections.

Under the media section, it is recommended to add a 'noindex' as shown in the image below:

Will adding a noindex to media block your images from being crawled? No, your images will be crawled and indexed without any issues. This option will only add a noindex to additional media pages that wordpress creates for each uploaded media.

Except for media, make sure that 'Meta Robots' is set to 'Index' in all other sections.

d.) Taxonomies

Under the 'Taxonomies' tab, all settings can be left as they are. Just make sure that 'Meta Robots' is set to 'Index' in both 'Categories' and 'Tag' sections.

For 'format' section, set the meta robots to 'noindex' as shown in the image below:

e.) Archives

Under the 'Archives' tab, enable 'Author Archives' and set meta robots to noindex as shown in the image below:

Also make sure that meta robots in date archives is set to 'noindex' as shown in the image below:

All other settings can be left as they are.

f.) Others

Leave all settings as they are under the Others tab.

5.) Social

Click on the 'Social' link from the left sidebar (Under Yoast SEO).

a.) 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).

b.) Facebook

Click on the Facebook tab and make sure that the 'Add Open Graph meta data' is Enabled.

Configure the following:

1.) Frontpage settings: This allows you to add a og image, og title and og description to your blog's homepage. This image and title tag will be used when someone shares your homepage on facebook.

You can upload a generic image for your site here. Next, re-enter your site's homepage title tag and meta description.

2.) 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 featured images.

3.) 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.

c.) Twitter

Go to the Twitter tab. 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'.

d.) 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.

6.) XML Sitemaps

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

make sure that the sitemap is set to Enabled.

The plugin will auto-generate your sitemap which should be able to view by visiting http://sitename.com/sitemap_index.xml (Make sure to replace sitename.com with your domain name.)

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

User-agent: *
sitemap: http://sitename.com/sitemap_index.xml

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'.

7.) Advanced

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

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 (into your theme) anywhere you want the breadcrumb to appear.

if ( function_exists( 'yoast_breadcrumb' ) ) {
	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.

Click on the permalinks tab and do the following:

1.) Set Strip the category base (usually /category/) from the category URL to 'Remove'.

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

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

http://sitename.com/category/cat-name/

If someone where to visit the main category page, which is http://sitename.com/category/, 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'.

2.) The Redirect attachment URL's to parent post URL can be left to 'No Redirect'.

3.) Set 'Stop words in slugs' to 'Remove'.

4.) Set Remove the ?replytocom variables to Remove.

5.) Set Redirect ugly URLs to clean permalinks to 'No Redirect'.

C.) RSS:

This option can be left as it is.

8.) Tools

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

a.) Bulk Editor:

The bulk editor link allows you to easily edit/add custom title tags and meta tags to single posts all in one place.

b.) 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.
sitemap: http://sitename.com/sitemap_index.xml

c.) Import and Export:

Use this link to import and export your SEO settings. A good practice would be to export your current settings by clicking on the 'Export tab'. This way you can easily use the same settings for all your sites.

The final thing to configure is the 'Google search console'. But this step is not necessary as you can access the search console directly by visiting this URL: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

Once you visit the URL, login using your Gmail ID and password and set up your website as per the instructions. Once your site is set up, you can access data directly by visiting the search console URL.

Related Article:
Ultimate WordPress SEO Checklist

 
 
 
 

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