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A Detailed Guide to Optimising Yoast SEO for WordPress (Part 1)

26 November 2015

Are you looking to increase your traffic for your WordPress site without spending money on advertising? Your first move should be to optimise your site to bring in more organic traffic. When it comes to picking the right plugin, your first option should be to try WordPress SEO by Yoast. It’s the most popular SEO plugin available for WordPress (and now Yoast SEO – Drupal). With over 1 million downloads, it has little competition on a similar scale.

We touched on the basics of Yoast SEO recently, but felt that we needed to share a more authorative guide on this popular plugin. While most users will get by with implementing the basics, you need to tweak and optimise the plugin for the best results. Start by either downloading the plugin and manually uploading it your WordPress installation, or simply installing it via your dashboard. Activate your installation to unlock all options.

1. General Settings

  • General
    • If you’re new to Yoast, we recommend you take the tour and familiarise yourself with the interface and the settings. On this screen you can also view update changes, or restore the installation to the default settings.
  • Your Info
    • Website Name / Alternate Name – Google will default this to the name of your website or blog. But if you want Google to display another name, please enter it here (as well as another alternative title).
    • Company or person – Enter this information for possible display in Google’s Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph displays on the right of SERPs – search engine results pages.
  • Webmaster Tools
    • Add your webmaster tool information for Google, Bing and others in order to gain access to analytical data regarding your site traffic, and to track how your site is indexed. Remember to first add your website to Google Search Console.
  • Security
    • Disable the Advanced part of the Wordpres SEO meta box – By enabling this option, you restrict your authors and editors from more advanced options for pages and posts. For example: they won’t have access to changing noindex settings, changing redirects and more.

 

2. Titles and Metas

Here you have a variety of options to manually set your title and meta tags for your website posts and pages. It’s generally better to display your post / page title first, followed by the name of your site (for brand recognition).

  • General
    • Force-rewrite – Depending on your code, there could be issues like duplicate site titles appearing. You’ll need to use force-rewrite to change them to the correct format. .
    • Title Separator – In your page and post titles, you can pick which symbol to use to separate the text.
  • Home Page
    • You can set the format of your home page title tag, as well as the meta description of your website.
  • Post Types
    • Here you will find similar settings as the home page title / meta settings, except that these now apply to your posts, pages and media. Additional options for each include:
      • Meta Robots – If you’re afraid of being penalised for duplicate content, you can set your posts to be followed, but not indexed, by Google.
      • Date in Snippet Preview – This depends on what kind of content you are planning to post. For news posts you would want to include the date. If you’re posting content that is always relevant (evergreen content), you should omit the date.
      • Hide WordPress SEO Meta Box – If you’re not planning on editing your post meta information, then you have the option of hiding these options underneath your posts while editing.

  • Taxonomies
    • Almost the same options are available here as for Post Types. Edit your categories, picture tags and more.
  • Archives
    • Archive pages are where posts of a specific category / taxonomy are displayed. For example, the author archives will display all posts by a specific author. (NOTE: If you only have one author, then the content will be the same as your home page). You can disable the Author Archives, as well as the Date Archives (it is possible that date-based content might be seen as duplicated in certain cases).
    • Special Pages: Set the title format of “special” pages –  Search Pages and 404 Pages. These are defaulted to noindex, follow.
  • Other
    • Noindex subpages of archives – Subpages of archives (page 2 results and onwards) are not important to search engines, but you can have them crawl these pages by checking this option.
    • Use meta keywords tag – Meta Keywords are not important, so it’s best to leave this option as is.
    • Add noodp / noydir meta robots tag sitewide –  noodp – No Open Directory Project; and noydir= No Yahoo Directory. These are also not important unless your website is listed in one of these directories.

 

3. Social

Today social media has a significant effect on your SEO. Add your social media account details here so that Google will display them in the knowledge graph. Additional settings are also available for certain social media platforms:

  • Facebook
    • Frontpage Settings
    • Default Settings
    • Facebook Insights and Admins – You can add Facebook insights for your WordPress site, Just add your Find Facebook ID.

  • Twitter – Select which type of Twitter Card you want.
  • Pinterest – Verify your site with Pinterest by inserting your meta tag. After this is enabled, your profile picture will be  added to any Pin that comes from your site.
  • Google+ – You can add Google+ specific post meta data by inserting your Google+ page link.

Next week we’ll cover the rest such as how to include an XML sitemap. In the meantime, take the plugin tour, read through our guide, and see which settings are right for your site.