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A Detailed Guide to Optimising Yoast SEO for WordPress (Part 2)

3 December 2015

Last week in part 1 of our Yoast SEO guide, we detailed the options for your site’s Title and Meta tags, Social Media and general settings. Let’s look at the rest of the settings available to us:

4) XML Sitemaps

A sitemap is essentially a map that search engines use to navigate and crawl through your site. It contains a list of all the pages that are accessible to users, and how they relate to each other. This helps the search engines to know where specific content is placed, in order to assist users find the right content they are searching for. The sitemap is automatically generated by this plugin, so there is no need to change any other settings.

XML Sitemap - Settings

  • General
    • If you want to view your sitemap, click on the “XML Sitemap” button, and you will directed to the location of your sitemap. Another step you want to take, is to verify this location with your Google Search Console.
  • User Sitemap
    • You can choose to enable an author / user sitemap. There really is no need, you’ll find that the default setting is for this to be disabled.
  • Post Types
    • If there are any post types you don’t want included in your sitemap, select them here. Your options are Posts, Pages and Media.
  • Excluded Posts
    • If you want to exclude specific posts from the sitemap, then type the Post IDs here (each seperated by a comma).
  • Taxonomies
    • You can exclude taxonomies from your sitemap – Categories, Tags, Formats, and Picture Tags.

5) Advanced

  • Breadcrumbs
    • Here you have the option to include breadcrumbs for your site. When enabled, you’ll have an added navigational section, traditionally at the top of your page. These help users to better navigate through your site, and also allows search engines to identify your site structure more easily.

Breadcrumbs

  • Permalinks
    • Change URLs
      • Strip the category base (usually /category/) from the category URL – If you want the category base to not display for your posts (for example: website.co.uk/category/news/story changes to website.co.uk/news/story, check this option. This has been known to malfunction, so think it through carefully before enabling it, as there is no real SEO benefit to it.
      • Redirect attachment URL’s to parent post URL – Attachments are stored as posts in your site’s database, which means they can be found via search engines. If you would prefer the links to redirect to the main article instead of the attachment, select this option.
    • Clean up permalinks
      • Remove stop words from slugs – This assists in creating cleaner URL links by removing stopwords like: A, is, what, how, was, this, that, but, at, he, I, in, its, your, with, all, any, here, his.
      • Remove the ?replytocom variables – “This prevents threaded replies from working when the user has JavaScript disabled”. This would only be of real use when you are managing a large website with a large amount of comments. Enabling this can hugely increase the crawl speed of search engines when crawling through your content.
      • Enforce a trailing slash on all category and tag URL’s – This option forces WordPress to include a trailing slash (“/”) at the end of your URLs. Enable this if your permalink structure ends with .html, or anything else except a “/”. This can help cut down on load and crawling speed.
      • Redirect ugly URL’s to clean permalinks. (Not recommended in many cases!) – This can negatively affect many of your plugins, so we would recommend that you don’t enable this.
    • RSS
      • You can customise a link to appear before and/or after your post appears in a RSS feed, which helps identify your site as the original source of the content.

6) Tools

Yoast Tools

Yoast SEO comes with some very powerful built-in tools:

  • Bulk Editor – The Bulk Editor allows users to alter titles and descriptions of your posts and pages without having to individually edit them page by page.
  • File Editor – This tool allows you to quickly edit files of importance for SEO, like the robots.txt and .htaccess files.
  • Import and Export – Import settings from other SEO plugins and export your settings for re-use on (another) blog.
  • Recalculate SEO scores – Recalculate SEO scores for all pieces of content with a focus keyword.

7) Search Console

To allow Yoast SEO to fetch your Google Search Console (formerly knows as Webmaster Tools) information, please enter your Google Authorization Code.

8) Extensions

Yoast Extensions

If you’re looking to add even more functionality, then Yoast offers 4 premium paid-for extensions:

  • Yoast SEO Premium – The added features include a redirect manager to create and manage all your redirects, and the ability to include multiple focus keywords for your posts so that you can rank for multiple terms.
  • Video SEO – This enables your videos to appear in search engine results.
  • News SEO – This plugin optimises your website for Google News.
  • Local SEO – Improves your local search engine visibility and in Google Maps.

And that is all of the available features for the free version of Yoast SEO. If you need further explanation by Yoast themselves, the “Help” option within the plugin should clear up any questions.