In this tutorial you will learn how to set up Yoast SEO, the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress. Whether you are an experienced WordPress user or just getting started, this tutorial will highlight the most important tools and features available in Yoast SEO.
SEO for WordPress – Tutorials & Videos
This tutorial is part of my SEO for WordPress series:
Yoast SEO is the most popular and widely used search engine optimization plugin for WordPress. It is used on over 5 million websites and comes in two versions, free and premium.
I will end this video by talking about a controversy regarding the new owners of the plugin.
But for now, let’s install it and I will explain how to use it.
Table of Contents
Yoast SEO Installation
I will begin with the General page.
In the Features tab, you can leave all the options On, maybe with the exception of Usage tracking and the REST API endpoint.
In the Integrations tab, you can safely disable SemRush and Wincher integration, unless you are an active user of these services.
In Webmaster Tools you can add your verification code from these 4 search engines. If not all 4, then you should at least register for Google Search Console access.
Next is the Search Appearance page.
If your website is set to display the latest posts on the homepage, then in the General tab you can set the homepage title and description meta.
In Content Types, you can set the default format for post and page titles and description meta, as well as choose if you want to display these types of content in search engines.
The standard post types should be turned ON. But there are custom post types that you don’t want to show up in search engines.
For example you might be using a plugin for image galleries, slideshows or even affiliate links. This type of content has no real value for search engines, so it should be turned off.
For Description meta, it is common practice to add the Excerpt variable into the format.
Even though it was officially deprecated, you can still use the %%currentyear%% snippet to add the current year to titles and description meta.
In Taxonomies, you can do the same thing but for archive pages. These are post categories, tags and other taxonomies that can be defined by plugins or by your active theme.
For most users it is a good idea to turn many of these OFF. Keep your post categories, but it is a good idea to turn OFF post tags and Formats.
If you have multiple plugins and some custom post types, you might see a dozen or so of taxonomies. Many of these can do more harm than good in terms of SEO, so it makes sense to turn them OFF.
A few more settings are available in the Archives tab.
If you have a single author on your website, then Author archives are not needed, as they will duplicate the same content as your main blog page. It’s best to exclude them from search results. The same goes for Date Archives.
Yoast SEO Breadcrumbs
And finally in the Breadcrumbs tab, you can enable this feature if your theme has support for it.
This is what Breadcrumbs look like in my Leonardo Theme and in my Foundation Theme.
On the Social page, you can add links to your social media accounts.
If you want your pages to look better when they are shared on social media, it is best to keep these two settings enabled both for Facebook and Twitter.
Yoast SEO Tools: File Editor and Bulk Editor.
A little known page is the Tools page, where you can do 2 very convenient things.
First, using the File Editor you can create and edit the robots.txt and .htaccess files.
And second, you can use the Bulk Editor to quickly change the SEO title and description meta for your content, without having to manually go through each page.
Individual Page SEO Settings
Now that we’re done with the configuration part, let’s look at what the plugin can do for individual posts and pages.
At the bottom of the Edit Page screen you can find the Yoast SEO panel.
Here you can see a preview of what your page may look like in search results. You can change the page title, slug and description meta.
You can find some automated suggestions in the SEO Analysis tab. Some of these are quite useful.
Cornerstone Content in Yoast
Marking something as Cornerstone content will not automagically do anything, it does not affect your page markup in any way. It directs the plugin to be more strict when analyzing Cornerstone Content, such as requiring longer content and shorter sentences.
In the Advanced tab, you can instruct search engines not to index a page. You can do this with low value pages that are not expected to bring organic traffic. People often NOINDEX their standard legal pages and pages with sensitive information.
Another thing that you can do is add some Schema markup for your special pages. Some pages can be marked as your About page, Contact page and so on.
And something similar can be done for your blog posts, especially if you have different types of posts.
According to Google, pages that include Article structured data can help Google understand more about the web page and show better headline text, images and date published for the article in Article rich results.
Yoast SEO Premium
Yoast SEO premium is a paid upgrade that some users might be interested in. The current cost is $99 per year excluding VAT. It comes with additional time-saving features and additional text analysis.
Yoast SEO Controversy
Now about that controversial issue that I mentioned in the beginning.
In August of 2021 the plugin and the company behind it were acquired by Newfold Digital. Newfold Digital is the new name of an infamous company previously known as Endurance International Group (EIG). If you’ve been around the web development world, then you might know their name very well.
Many credit them for acquiring and eventually ruining the reputation of many hosting providers like HostGator.
To no one’s surprise, some of the comments to this announcement were not full of enthusiasm. The top two comments share some of my concerns:
Back in 2016 I wrote about my personal experience as a long-time HostGator customer.
Long story short, HostGator in combination with their strategic partner SiteLock, also owned by EIG, would falsely disable the accounts of their web hosting customers claiming that their websites are infected with malware. You had to pay hundreds of dollars to get your account reinstated, even if there was no malware. I received hundreds of comments and direct messages from other victims of this scam, all involving SiteLock and other hosting companies owned by EIG.
I’m not telling you not to use Yoast SEO. I still use it on many of my websites. But I won’t be surprised if in the future there will be a lot more upselling or some important features will be dropped out of the free version of the plugin. Buyer beware so to speak. Let me know in the comments what you think about this.
If you’re interested in Yoast SEO alternatives, I have a separate video in which I compare it to its main competitors, such as All in One SEO, Rank Math, SEOPress and The SEO Framework.
I also have a Detailed Guide to WordPress SEO, check it out.
Thank you for watching.
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