WordPress: A Guide to the Yoast SEO Plugin
With little knowledge of SEO and how to optimise your website for search engines and users, it can be hard to achieve the rankings you deserve. However if your website is built on WordPress optimisation has never been easier! With the help of the Yoast SEO plugin you can easily and quickly optimise your entire site with the many features available within the tool. The Yoast SEO plugin gives you real-time insights into your webpages and any crucial elements that could be improved that you otherwise may have missed! There is a premium version of the Yoast SEO plugin which gives you access to further features, however the free version offers you all the basics you need to ensure your website is optimised with SEO in mind.
Free Yoast SEO Features:
Title Tags & Meta Descriptions
By installing the Yoast SEO plugin you can easily set a template for all your title tags and meta descriptions site-wide, this will not only save you time but also help keep your webpages consistent. With Yoast SEO installed you will see a meta data box when you are editing any of your webpages, this shows you how your webpage will appear in search results. If you would like to break away from your template, you can easily edit your title, description and URL path to match your requirements. An additional feature in the meta data box is that you can enter a ‘focus keyword’ for each page and the plugin with analyse your content for that keyword, showing your areas that are not fully optimised for your chosen term such as the page URL and image alt tags. However, in the free version you are only able to have one focus keyword which may be problematic if you are targeting more than one keyword to a page.
With Yoast SEO you can also manage your meta robots by identifying pages you would like to be kept hidden and out of the index, as well as pages you would like to appear in search results. Your meta robots settings can be found under the Advanced tab in the meta data box on every page of your website, whether than be one singular webpage or an entire category. However, you should first define whether you would like to use the meta robots tag or a robots.txt file.
There are many XML sitemap plugins available for WordPress however by having a sitemap feature within your SEO plugin; this ensures the changes made on your webpages communicate with your XML sitemap. The Yoast SEO plugin prevents discrepancies and ensures that pages you do not want to be indexed by Google are removed from your XML sitemap; you can also define which types of pages you don’t want to appear within your sitemap such as images and other media files. Not only is this a highly useful functionality to have in place, Yoast also use an XSLT style on your sitemap so that they are formatted correctly and can be easily read by users as well as search engines!
Canonical URLs & Breadcrumbs
The Yoast SEO plugin automatically defines every page you create as the canonical version however it is easy to add the canonical URL of a page into the meta data box in the field ‘Canonical’. The Yoast SEO plugin removes the hassle of tampering with code, simply pasting in the canonical URL and updating the page – it’s as easy as it gets! As well as this, in the same meta data box in the Breadcrumbs Title field you can define what you would like the breadcrumb to appear as for every category, subcategory, page and post.
It has never been easier to monitor and track your website than with Yoast SEO. In the General Settings of the plugin under the Webmaster Tools tab you can add in your verification code to verify your ownership of the domain and begin gaining valuable information about your website using Google Search Console. However, you will still have to manually insert the Google Analytics/Google Tag Manager code within the code itself as Yoast have yet to add this functionality.
Yoast SEO Premium Features
If you upgrade to the premium version of the plugin, you gain an additional 3 features including redirect management, multiple focus keywords per page and premium support from the Yoast team. Although being able to speak to Yoast would of course be an advantage, there are multiple resources online that can help you with any technical questions you have. There are also further trusted plugins that allow you to create 301 redirects so upgrading to a paid package may be an unnecessary purchase for some webmasters.Back to Blog