Yoast SEO is the most popular plugin for SEO in WordPress. It is free but has a lot of features, but there are many things you must configure to take advantage of those features. So, I am giving you a detailed instruction to configure Yoast SEO in this post.
Yoast SEO has both free and pro versions. The free one is available on wordpress.org so you can install it from the admin dashboard.
Right after installing and activating it, go to the SEO menu and start to configure this plugin. This post is the first path of the series for Yoast SEO and is about general settings only. For further settings, please find in the next posts.
On the first screen of General item > Dashboard tab, Yoast will show you some notifications and problems that your website is having.
If there is anything, you should follow the instructions to fix it. Otherwise, go to the Features tab.
You will have options to turn On or Off some features here. All of them are basic and general so Yoast automatically turns them On. You may consider each of them and decide to turn off it or not. It’s up to your needs.
If you had no idea about what it is, click to the nearby question mark then click the link to go to the introduction post about the features. As you see, there are quite a lot of features, the posts about them are so long as well. Thus, I made this post to summarize them all so you can make decisions faster.
This feature allows Yoast SEO to analyze your post’s content and structure, including:
- Its title, URL, meta description, context, heading, first paragraph, etc. have enough characters/words or not? Include the keywords or not? How about the keyword density and position?
- Did you set Alt text for your images? Does it include keywords? …
- Did you set an internal link, external link?
Although these points may be small things, they’re so important. Because it’s quite difficult to manually check to control them all, you should turn this feature on. It might be a “must-have” item in your board as well as the most used features.
The Readability Analysis feature will analyze the wording of your post, e.g:
- Did you use common and simple words?
- Is it easy to read?
- Did you use transition words?
- Did you use too long sentences?
- Did you distribute your headings reasonably?
- Did you use too many passive voice sentences?
This feature is as important as the SEO analysis one. You should turn it on as well.
Cornerstone content is the core and essential posts that show your website topic. You should choose 4 or 5 posts on your website to be cornerstone content. Obviously, the SEO requirements are more strict on these posts.
This feature of Yoast SEO allows you to set any post or page to be cornerstone content. So that it can analyze the post with a higher level of the requirements that’ll show in the SEO analysis.
In my case, when I did not set this post to be a cornerstone content, the analysis result about the alt text of the images is set on the improvement part. It shows that its impact is not dramatic.
But when I set it as cornerstone content, this analysis moved to the problem part. It means that you MUST solve this to make your post better.
This feature counts the number of links from and to your post. However, you have only the number of links from your post to other sites in the free version of Yoast SEO. The rest is coming with the pro version only.
If you are using the free version of Yoast SEO, this tool does not make sense. So, you can turn it off.
This feature is especially useful when you have a significant number of pages, post types, or your website is new, lack of links. Anyway, you should turn it on to make your website more clear in structure before search engines. Furthermore, no matter which type of your site, it helps you to generate the XML sitemaps so you can save your effort a lot.
The Ryte Integration features helps you to know how many posts are high / medium / low quality, which one is not indexable. This is not an important feature but provides you information to make better decisions.
Personally, I usually use this feature. When I write a post, I can see the score lively and always try to make it yellow or green. So the quality of the content is always in my hand.
It only adds an icon of Yoast to your admin bar that helps you to reach the useful links faster.
This is not important and does not affect SEO score so you can turn it off.
If you have only one or a few people to administrate and write the content, you may skip this feature. Otherwise, when you have several authors who you are not totally control, you should turn it on to prevent any unexpected changes in settings.
Connect with Webmaster Tools
Webmaster tools are the same as the health scale machine for your website. They let you know the traffic from SERPs, which keywords bring you traffic, rank of each keyword, website’s error, etc.
If you haven’t had any webmaster tool yet, you should consider having one, especially Google Search Console. Google Search Console shows you all the above information and more but in google.com only. However, it is the most popular channel that brings you the most traffic.
You must connect your site with the webmaster tools to get statistics. Normally, you need to add a code provided by the webmaster tool to your homepage. However, instead of touching code, you can fill in the verification code to a box in Yoast SEO.
This is the Webmaster Tools tab in the General of Yoast SEO. By this feature, you could not use code any more.
For example, you can get the verification code of Google Search Console as the following:
Click to the link to Google Search Console in the above screen then you will be led to Webmaster Central.
Copy the code in the yellow highlight area and paste it to the Google Verification Code > press Save Changes.
Finally, back to the Webmaster Central page and press Verify. That’s done.
To Wrapping All Things Up
Now, you have finished all the general settings for Yoast SEO. Nevertheless, this is the beginning only. There are many things in the rest. I will share how to set them all in the next posts of this series. Keep track of my posts!
- How to Use Yoast SEO to Optimize Your WordPress Website – P1 – General Settings
- How to Use Yoast SEO to Optimize Your WordPress Website – P2 – General Settings
- How to Use Yoast SEO to Optimize Your WordPress Website – P3 – Content Optimization