WordPress is one of the most popular Content Management Systems all over the world. According to BuiltWith.Com’s CMS Usage Statistics, 30% websites use this CMS. So there is no doubt that, SEO professionals like us must have to have the expertise on this CMS.
This CMS is also known as the most SEO friendly among all other available Content Management Systems. But, what’s the reason behind that?
Well, it is an open source platform and so many app developers can develop plugins for many different purposes which the website owners can install easily on their site. For SEO purpose, two most popular plugins are there. One is Yoast SEO plugin and the other is All in One SEO plugin.
Among this two options, Yoast SEO plugin is widely used due to its user friendliness. The main objective of this post is to educate a beginner level SEO professional to learn how to optimize an entire WordPress site with Yoast SEO plugin. I will try to go through step by step process and so you need to stick me to the last.
Install Yoast SEO Plugin to WordPress Site:
Installing Yoast SEO plugin to WordPress site is not a complicated task. After login to your website WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins and Add new option like shown in the below image.
Once landed on the target page, you can see an option to type your keyword. Just type “Yoast SEO” and you’ll find a list of available plugins related to Yoast and SEO. In most cases, on the top of the list, you will find the Yoast Plugin. Click on the Install button and Activate it. Below image is for easy understanding;
Yoast Premium version plugin is also available with more features. But, in my point of view, it’s not required at such initial stage. However, when your site gets popularity, receive huge traffic and you also maintain considerable activities on the site, then you may think about using the Premium Yoast plugin.
Pay Attention in Yoast SEO Settings Options:
After installing the Yoast SEO plugin, you will the plugin in the left bar of WordPress dashboard. Once you click on it, you can see the all the available settings options.
You must need to setup the options properly in the settings. There are multiple options that you need to focus on. I will explain all of them and one by one with necessary reference images so that it’ll be easy for you to understand the settings and follow accordingly.
There are total four things in the Dashboard that need your attention. They are Features, Company info, webmaster tools and security.
In the Features option, enable all of them and update company info with all necessary pieces of information.
The Webmaster Tools option will allow you to inject the Webmaster verification codes in the site and complete verification from respective Webmaster tools. Currently, Yoast SEO plugin allows total three Webmaster Tools for verifying the site i.e. Google, Bing, and Yandex. I will show you in the other post how to verify site with these Webmaster Tools accounts through Yoast plugin.
In the Security option, by default, it will be setup as Disabled. You need to Enable it. Once you enable the security option, you’ll find few other options like Advanced and Tools options under the “Yoast SEO” plugin in WordPress dashboard.
Titles & Metas:
After setting up the Dashboard, next you need to focus on the Titles & Metas. It’s a general setting option for the whole site. You need to focus one by one as below;
Once you Enable the “Force Rewrite Titles” options, it will force the search engine to take the updated titles and meta descriptions written on every page and post from the Yoast SEO meta box. Otherwise, search engines will take the SSEO title from the Page or Post titles and meta description from the page/post content.
Under Home tab, you will get the option to update SEO title and metadata. However, in some theme settings, it may give you a link to go the Home page itself and update the metadata.
Once all above done, you need to move to social setting options. It is a great option provided by the Yoast SEO plugin. It’ll allow you to inform the search engines about which social accounts are representing the site, how posts on social media will show when you share contents from your site and many other options. Let have a look on the below images which make things much clear to you;
Google ranking depends on many factors. A well-known digital marketer, Brian Dean explained around 200 ranking factors in one of his posts on Backlinkco.Com. Among all these, strong social signals nowadays have a great impact on organic search ranking.
A strong relation and dependency between social media and SEO nicely explained in another post on Kissmetrics Blog which inspires me most. After realizing the fact, I consider proper social setup i.e. social media accounts optimization and social media marketing as a part of my SEO campaign for my all client’s projects.
So, you must be ready up all the necessary social media accounts before you proceed to update this social section in the Yoast plugin.
Next, you have moved on to the XML sitemap settings. It is one of the most important parts of on page optimization. A sitemap provides a guideline to the search bots how to crawl the website so that it can find a logical structure of the site.
Yoast SEO plugin provides a built-in system through which you can easily generate Sitemap.XML file for the website. You only have to enable the option as shown in the image.
Once enable and save it, you can find a link there to check the newly create Sitemap.XML file for the site. You can also check by typing a URL in the browser i.e. http://WEBSITE-ADDRESS/sitemap.xml
It’s also possible to create Sitemap.XML file manually by writing the codes on a notepad, save the file with a name i.e. “Sitemap.xml” and upload to root directory of the website through C-Panel.
Another option is to create a Sitemap.XML file through an online based free sitemap generator tool namely XML-Sitemaps.Com, download the file and upload it to the root directory of the website. However, in both cases, you need to update the Sitemap.XML file for the site periodically and upload it to the right place and also need to submit to Google through Google Webmaster Tools account.
Yoast makes the things very simple for us. It not only helps to create the search bot friendly Sitemap.XML file with just one click, but also submit to Google Webmaster account periodically once you authenticate your Google account with the plugin.
In advance settings, you only have to update two things that are highly recommended in SEO. First one is to enable the Breadcrumbs and the other one is Bold the last page option.
Although it is highly recommended in SEO, but not a must thing to do. It may not give direct benefit to your website SEO, but it gives a neat and clean look of your URLs in the search result like shown in the image.
It especially helpful if your Page or Post URLs are too long. Instance, if you publish a page under a parent page, then the page URL will look like this, https://www.website.com/parent-page-slug/new-page-slug/.
On the other hand, in the case of posts, if you publish a single post under two different categories, then on category must be the primary one and the other will be the secondary. In such case, your post URL will look like this, https://www.website.com/parent-category-slug/secondary-category-slug/ in Archive.
Breadcrumbs short down the URLs, make it sweet which ultimately attract visitors to learn about your page with a single glance.
The last most important options in Yoast SEO plugin settings is the Tools option which usually comes into the display when you enable the security option in the Yoast SEO dashboard settings. This option allows you some sensitive area of the website like edit Robots.txt file, htaccess file and import settings from other SEO plugins and exports your settings for re-use on another blog.
Most of the time, you only need to use the file editor option to update the Robots.txt file in case the instruction is missing there. Robots.txt files actually contain few commands for the search bots.
Instance, you may not want the search engines to crawl your plugins URLs or few of your selected pages to get indexed in the search results. In such cases, you can put the URL under “Disallow” command and update the Robots.txt file.
In most cases, Robots.txt commands for a WorsPress website looks like below;
Whenever you take up an assignment to optimize a WordPress site, you need to check the SEO setting in the Yoast plugin. If all are good here, you can move on to the individual pages, posts, categories and tags for further optimization.
As mentioned earlier that, WordPress is an open source platform and all these kinds of plugins including Yoast SEO plugin are coming from third parties, these plugins always need an ongoing maintenance. Whenever the developer made an update of this plugin, a notification usually shows on the plugin option in WordPress dashboard. You must have to keep an eye on such notifications and update immediately whenever needed.