Configuration guide for Yoast SEO
This article will guide you through all the steps you need to take to configure the Yoast SEO plugin on your site. You’ll find information on both the free Yoast SEO plugin as well as Yoast SEO Premium.
Table of contents
Learn more about Yoast SEO!
Not sure what settings are best for your site? Check out our free Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin training. It will teach you to use all the great features of Yoast SEO to their full potential!
Where to find the Yoast SEO settings
After you have installed Yoast SEO free or Yoast SEO Premium, you will have a new menu available to customize your SEO global settings. The plugin also adds SEO settings at the post, page and taxonomy level.
- Log in to your WordPress website.
When you’re logged in, you will be in your ‘Dashboard’.
- Click on ‘Yoast SEO’.
On the left-hand side, you will see a menu. In that menu, click on ‘Yoast SEO’.
In this article, we’ll go through all of these menu items, see what they are for and how you can optimize them for your site.
On the Dashboard tab, you’ll also see a heading called Problems, which shows all the issues we’ve detected that affect the SEO of your site. You’ll also see a heading called Notifications, which shows all the notifications from the Yoast SEO plugin.
On the Features tab, you can disable and enable the following features within Yoast SEO for your entire site:
- SEO analysis
- Readability analysis
- Cornerstone content
- Text link counter
- Link suggestions
- XML sitemaps
- Admin bar menu
- Security: no advanced or schema settings for authors
- Usage tracking
- REST API: Head endpoint
- Enhanced Slack sharing
Yoast SEO integrates with some tools that can let you do a lot for your site’s SEO. Currently you’ll find the following integrations:
The Webmaster Tools tab allows you to verify your site with the webmaster tools of Baidu, Bing, Yandex, and Google (Google Search Console). Webmaster tools give you feedback on how your site is doing in the search results and tell you how these search engines are perceiving your site.
- How to connect to Google Search Console
- How to connect to Bing Webmaster Tools
- How to connect to Yandex Webmaster Tools
- How to submit your sitemaps
First time configuration
In the First time configuration tab, you can configure Yoast SEO, so that you can get the most out of it. We advise you to go through the steps when you are just starting out with the plugin. But, you can also do it at a later time, or edit some of the data you’ve already entered.
With this configuration, you’ll use the power of our cutting edge indexables technology to set up your site and get it ready to be found and displayed in the search engines. That’s why, in the first step we ask you to optimize your SEO data. If you have a lot of content, optimizing your data may take a while. Still, you can safely move on to the next steps while the data is being optimized. If the data optimization is not complete when you are done with the rest of the configuration, you will need to wait for it to finish.
In the First time configuration, you can also describe your site and your social profiles so they may get a chance to be included in Google’s Knowledge Graph.
This section allows you to customize the title, meta, and social appearance templates that are automatically applied to your content, prevent duplicate content and decide if a certain post type should appear in the search results.
- How to use template variables
- How to prevent duplicate content
- The difference between focus keyphrases and meta keywords
- Using category and tag pages for SEO
The General tab of the Search Appearance settings allows you to edit the:
- Title separator: what we use to separate different parts of your SEO title from each other. For example, this could be a hyphen (-), a bullet (•), or a vertical bar (|).
- Homepage: here, you can set the SEO title, meta description, and social settings for your homepage. The social settings are the image, title, and description used when a link to your homepage is shared on social media.
- Knowledge Graph & Schema.org: these settings determine what your site will look like when it shows up in Google’s Knowledge Graph.
On the Content Types tab, you can determine whether you want each of the different content types your site has to show up in the search results and on social media.
For each content type (e.g. post, page, and product), you can set:
- the SEO title;
- the meta description;
- the schema settings;
- the custom fields;
- the social image;
- the social title;
- the social description.
The social settings allow you to set a default template for how your posts, pages, or other content types look when shared on social media.
On the Media tab, you can determine whether you want to redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself. When you upload an image to WordPress, that image gets a URL that becomes available. WordPress also automatically generates an entirely new web page, containing just that image: a so-called attachment URL. These attachment URLs are quite empty and because of that it’s better to disable them, and redirect them to the media item itself.
On the Taxonomies tab, you’re allowed to determine whether you want search engines to show the different types of taxonomies (e.g. categories, tags) in the search results. You can also alter the templates of the SEO title, meta description, and social appearance templates for these taxonomies.
On the Archives tab, you can determine how different types of archives will be treated on your website. You can allow search engines to show the different types of archives (e.g. author archives, date archives) of your site in their search results and on social media.
Read more: Archive SEO: archive by topic, not by date
Yoast SEO offers an easy way to add breadcrumbs to your WordPress site. If your theme supports Yoast breadcrumbs, the settings on the Breadcrumbs tab will be available. Here, you can determine what your breadcrumbs will look like.
In addition, the breadcrumbs block in Yoast SEO lets you add breadcrumbs to individual posts and pages. All you need to do is add the block to the post or the page, and it’s done! If you want to learn more about it, head to the release post where we explain how the Yoast breadcrumbs block works.
These RSS settings exist because, unfortunately, there are scraper sites that republish content from other sites without their permission. If they republish your content, they usually don’t link back to your site. This leads to duplicate content in the search results and because of this, the scraper site might outrank you with your own content.
For that reason, Yoast SEO has the functionality to add links back to your site at the end of each blog post. This shows search engines the original source of the article, and this will make sure you will show up as the first result for your own content.
This section allows you the option to associate your site with your social media profiles for Google’s Knowledge Graph, enable Open Graph metadata, enable Twitter card metadata, and configure other social settings. With Yoast SEO Premium, you also get social previews.
In the Search Appearance settings, you could choose whether your site represents a person or an organization. If your site represents an organization, you’ll get a form with social media accounts that you can fill out in the Accounts tab. If your site represents a person, the form on the Accounts tab is disabled.
On the Facebook tab, you can determine if you want to add Open Graph metadata, which allows users to share web pages on Facebook. With this feature enabled, Facebook will display a preview with images and a text excerpt when a link to your site is shared.
On the Twitter tab, you can decide whether you want to output specific metadata for Twitter: Twitter Card metadata. We suggest leaving this enabled at all times.
Because Pinterest uses (Facebook’s) Open Graph metadata, the Pinterest tab is only there to verify your site with Pinterest.
Warning: This section may require advanced WordPress experience and, in rare cases, may cause problems with other functions of your site. Use with caution.
The Yoast SEO plugin offers the following tools:
- Import and Export: allows you to import settings from other SEO plugins and export your settings for re-use on another blog.
- File editor: allows you to quickly change important files for your SEO, like your robots.txt file and, if you have one, your .htaccess file.
- Bulk editor: allows you to quickly change titles and descriptions of your posts and pages without having to go into the editor for each page.
- Optimize SEO data: allows us to fetch all of a page’s metadata in one simple database request (rather than lots of individual requests), resulting in much faster page loads.
On the Premium tab, you can learn more about our premium plugins or view your activation status.
Having a site requires continuous work, just like you do, so you can keep in shape. That’s why we created the Yoast SEO workouts! They make it easy to help you keep your site SEO fit, so you can keep or increase your rankings!