Yoast Tutorial. SEO for WordPress

Yes, you just found the tutorial that will end all your problems doing SEO in WordPress. Because in this article I teach you how to use Yeast SEO, the best WordPress plugin with which you can optimize your website for search engines. This is a free plugin with which you can optimize your website to position it in search engines.

Surely it has already been recommended to you more than once as the panacea to appear in organic searches. The truth is that it is the most complete and long-lived and the best value for money if you use WordPress as a content manager. But this plugin doesn’t do magic, it doesn’t help to install it and sit back and watch the visits increase.

What Yoast offers you is a toolkit to adapt your site to search engines. That’s why I bring you this SEO tutorial, so you can learn how to really use it and get the most out of it.

Version 14 improvements

On April 28, 2020, Yoast SEO released a new version of this plugin. Improvements include:

  • Adds the feature of maintaining an index of your site’s SEO data. A function that stores all metadata (e.g. meta title, meta description…) to improve loading time.
  • Add a notice that appears when your on page seo service content has not yet been fully indexed.
  • The og:type meta tag is no longer generated on 404 pages.
  • The twitter:title, twitter:image and/or twitter:description meta tags are no longer generated when there are already og:title, og:image and/or og:description meta tags specified in the code and they have not been specifically configured for another stuff.
  • The og:updated_time meta tag is no longer generated.
  • Shortens all HTML tags in text fields in the Schema output.
  • Uses the Gravatar image as a default replacement in the og:image and twitter:image author file.
  • Improves the way images are retrieved from the gallery.
  • Robot meta values ​​are no longer removed by default.

With these improvements, they aim to make the experience of Yoast users much better and make it easier to do SEO for WordPress.

In addition, on May 13, Yoast releases version 14.1, which resolves some errors regarding possible indexing problems and a new language in which it is available (French).

Lets start by the beginning!

What is Yoast SEO?

Yoast SEO is a plugin for WordPress, launched in 2008, that develops  utilities to optimize web pages for search engines , based on the main guidelines on organic positioning. This plugin helps you  set up your website and increase its traffic .

If you know how to properly take advantage of the  configurations  it allows you to make (meta tags, pages that should not be indexed, robot files and sitemaps…), you will be able to  improve the average position of your content  for the main search engines. In addition to the general functions, Yoast guides you in the use of your keywords for each content individually and also alerts you about technical and semantic errors that you may make.

1. Install Yoast SEO

Installing it is very simple, you just have to go to the  Yoast SEO Plugin page  that the developer ( Joost de Valk ) makes available to us. There you will find both the Premium version and the download ZIP of the free version.

Yoast Premium vs Yoast Free

The most notable difference between Yoast Premium and the free version is the redirect manager. With it, you can tell crawling robots what has happened to those URLs that are no longer found as such on your site. You can tell them that the page has been permanently moved (301 redirect) or permanently deleted (410 redirect). All without having to access the htaccess file where an error can bring down your website.

In addition to the redirects and technical support function, Yoast Premium adds some extra functionalities so that you do not depend on other SEO tools such as SEMrush . Because it offers you words related to your main keyword and that have semantic prominence (its use is recurrent on the pages that are in the first results of Google). And it suggests internal links to your essential content or cornerstone.

I also tell you that with the free version you have more than enough to start working on the SEO of your website in WordPress.

Adding the plugin to your website

Now you go to the  Plugins > Add new section , where you can  upload the plugin .

As you can see, you can save yourself the download step by searching for it directly in the  WordPress plugin directory  that appears when you click “ Add Plugins” . But I wanted to include this screenshot so you know how to do it if you want to download the paid version. In my case the Install now option does not appear  , because I already have it installed.

Easy, right? You have it just one click away.

Next, a new menu appears on the left side of your administration panel.

2. Initial Yoast SEO Setup

2.1. General. control Panel

The first thing you find when you go to this new menu is a control panel with notifications about problems that may negatively affect SEO (e.g. you have  blocked robots from accessing your site ). You will also find notices, for example, connecting  Search Console  with your website through Yoast.

As you can see, you have several tabs, of which I am going to explain the highlights.

Installation wizard. General Tab

To start, the most interesting thing about the General tab is the Yoast SEO installation wizard for WordPress . It is recommended that you use it if you are totally new to this CMS, because it will be very simple for you. You fill in the most important fields step by step.

In fact, although I don’t recommend missing out on what I have to tell you next, you could save yourself the hassle of reading my post if what you’re looking for is simply a very basic configuration to launch your site.

In the General tab you also have the option to return to the default settings .

Advanced settings page and other functions. Features Tab

In the Features tab you have the option to choose the Yoast features you want to work with. One of them is very important, it is about displaying the  Advanced Settings Page . Activate it to have the full potential of the free version.

You can also activate other features in which Yoast will help you optimize your pages and posts, such as: SEO analysis (be careful, it is only a support, do not take it literally), readability analysis (to check if your texts they are easy to read), link counter in texts (to know the  number of internal links that an entry or page receives )…

Webmaster Tools tab. Tools for Webmasters

In this tab you can verify your website in the webmaster tools of the main search engines (Bing, Google and Yahoo). If you click it takes you to the verification option, which in the case of Search Console (Google) you can verify through an HTML tag.

<meta name=”google-site-verification” content=”0aaaBaaaaB0aBaaaa00BBB0aaBBaajBBBBB0aBBaaaBB” />

All you have to do is copy the string of characters associated with content in the following meta tag and paste it in the Google Search Console box.

Let’s go with the most interesting…

2.2. Titles and goals

One of the most useful features of Yoast since the first versions is the option to edit the Title and Description meta tags. They are web metadata, where we specify to the crawling robots the  title  and  description  that we want them to show in the  results of a search  (although sometimes they ignore us).

To be able to edit these fields, all we have to do is go to the page or entry that we are editing. At the bottom, we will find the  Yoast SEO box . In Edit Snippet (fragment) the SEO Title and Meta Description fields are displayed. With which we can optimize them, adjusting it to the optimal size and including the target keywords.   

Don’t worry if you have many posts or pages to optimize. You don’t need to go one by one. If you have a set of pages that follow the same pattern , you can create templates to use by default on said pages . You can do this for pages that are less important and you don’t want to edit, or simply because you want to optimize a large website and can’t go page by page.

2.2.1. Templates for metadata in Yoast

For this there is the Appearance in the search engine section of the SEO menu (the new menu that we mentioned before on the left side). It is about creating  Templates  of the  specific Type of content  : posts, pages, categories, labels, formats and symbols (these last four are called  Taxonomies  because they are used to classify content and have their own tab) .

By default, Yoast places in the Meta Title field the name you choose for the page when creating it. And as a description an extract (excerpt) of the content of that page. But thanks to the templates, you can add other variables (e.g. site name, date…) or words that you are interested in including to differentiate yourself (e.g. “buy”, “custom”, “cheap”, “at home”, ” in 24 hours”…).

Maybe this function seems silly to you because you have a small corporate website. But when you have an online store made with  Woocommerce  and you have to go product by product, things change. Imagine that you have a gift shop where you sell wristwatches, among other things.

You could, for example, have a  Product template  that automatically generates Title and Description from the template information:

Title template:

%%title%% %%page%% in %%sitename%%

Meta description template:

Buy %%title%% for only %%wc_price%% €. %%excerpt%%

Which could give the title “ Dali Watch page 3 on Regalamosmucho.com ” and the description “ Buy Dalí Watch for only €24.99. Dalí’s fun watch is a surreal piece for your wrist .”

I leave you  all the variables that you can use  in the  Yoast documentation on meta tags .

2.2.2. Other options

As you will see, in this section there are also other options:

Meta robots tag “noindex”.  This is in case we do not want any of the types of content to appear on Google.

Date in the Google snippet preview . If we have fresh content and we are interested in it being seen that our content is the newest or if we want the opposite.

Yoast SEO meta box . It serves to show the Yoast options in each type of content (posts, pages…etc.). You can disable it if what you want is to hide it (I don’t recommend it).

In principle, I recommend leaving these options as they are by default. Especially if you are new to Yoast, because you can load the positioning of many of your pages. If there is something that you do not want to be indexed, you always have time to return to this section or go to the specific content.

23. Social networks

In the social networks section, Yoast allows you to connect your social networks. Always use the URL except for Twitter, which goes with the user with your website for search engines.

This allows us to generate metadata that will be used when our content is shared on social networks.

Do you know why Facebook does not show a preview of your page (title, description, image…) when you enter the URL to share content? Surely you do not have Facebook metadata activated , Open Graph . In Yoast you can also add a default image, so that it takes it if a given ULR does not contain an image. And now you can also see your Facebook page statistics on your website thanks to Yoast (although it’s something I haven’t tried yet).

2.4. XML Sitemap

Now let’s go with another of Yoast’s long-standing flagship options, the XML Sitemap, which is now called XML Sitemaps and is found within the Features in the General tab of the SEO section. All you have to do is activate this functionality and a sitemap will automatically be generated for crawling robots, which will indicate the pages that make up your site.

If you navigate through the different tabs that make up the Appearance function in the search engine, you can decide the type of content that you do not want to be added to the site map (that you do not want to be crawled and indexed by search engines).

For example, I am very interested in having the posts and pages on my website indexed, but I do not want specific URLs for images or other URLs generated by plugins that I use (such as those generated by Thrive Content Builder) to be indexed. I just have to tell you that “It is not on the site map”.

I can do the same with the indexing of Tag type taxomonies , which often cause problems with duplicate content on large sites if the owner does not  use them correctly . You can even exclude a specific post or page by taking its identifier and adding it to Excluded Posts.

2.5. Search engine appearance

In the Appearance menu in the search engine, we find some options added to solve the possible limitations of the theme that your website uses.

2.5.1 Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are the path that indicates to the user the navigation route they have followed to reach the page where they are located. If your site does not have breadcrumbs by default, Yoast SEO allows you to create them. Simply activating this option and indicating the type of separators to use.

2.5.2. Taxonomies

This option allows us  to remove the word “category”  (base category) that by default appears in the URLs referring to a specific category on our site. We could do it in the Permanent Links section of our site, but this way we don’t worry about making redirects.

2.5.3. Media

Redirect the attachment URLs  to the entry URL. As we saw before, we can index or not the URLs of our images (attachment) or we can redirect them to the entry to which they belong.

2.5.4. RSS

This option is very interesting in order to defend the authorship of your content . Because with it metadata is added to identify you as the original source of the content. For sites that use robots that directly copy the content.

2.6. Tools

Let’s go with another key section, the Tools section, which if you master it you can now do SEO on your site in a “PRO” plan. Thanks to the File Editor (this option may be disabled by your hosting or a security plugin) you can manage 2 key files for SEO: Robots TXT and htaccess.

You already know that through  robots.txt , you can block the crawling of some pages of your site (e.g. the administrator area) and Yoast itself generates this file and allows you to edit it.

It also allows you to enter htaccess to, for example, perform a permanent redirect, or change settings to  improve loading speed .

Eye! Do not touch the htaccess file if you are not an advanced WordPress user, because it can disrupt the operation of your website. It is always advisable to have an updated copy of this file, because if you make a syntax error, your page will stop serving and you will not be able to access it to change it (you will need FTP access). Here you have  recommendations when using it .

In the Tools you also have the Mass Editor to modify the titles of each page without having to enter page by page. And the option to import and export the  SEO options of the Plugin  you are using.

3. How to use Yoast SEO to rank specific pages

We have already seen how to initially configure Yoast to have a good foundation of SEO optimization on your website. Now let’s see what you have to do on the pages that make up your site so that they are positioned for a specific search.

As an example I am going to take one of the entries on my blog, because the entries are more useful, since they are normally longer than the service pages. Specifically, I’m going to something I wrote recently about  how to increase visits thanks to the blog, which I’m sure will interest you. Let’s go to the bottom, where the “Yoast box” appears.

3. 1. Content optimization

If you notice, the options are divided into tabs, the one you see by default (and the most important) is the one with the name SEO. In it, we can edit the Google snippet as I told you before, to include the Title and Description that will appear in the search results.

We can also choose a target keyword for which we want to appear, so that Yoast tells us if the content is optimized for it. As well as preview the snippet (both in mobile version and desktop version). And we can edit the URL (slug) to make the URL as user-friendly as possible (although you also do it directly from the WordPress editor itself).

3.1.1. SEO analysis

From this information, the Yoast box makes an  SEO Analysis  that will tell you how your content is, in terms of:

  • Use of the keyword in the first paragraph, in the headings, in meta tags and in URLs
  • Keyword density
  • Title and Description length in the snippet
  • Recommended length (number of words)
  • Using the ALT attribute on images

Don’t complicate things when choosing the target keyword . I always use a simple word (important but not a keyword as such). Because otherwise Yoast will look for the keyword to be in: Title, H1, description, URL…etc.

Believe me, it can be a headache to fit it in. When in reality it is not necessary because robots recognize relevance through synonyms. So don’t take it literally. Yoast is an assistant that reminds you of improvements you can make to your content.

3.1.2 Readability Analysis

Another interesting function is the  Readability Analysis , which helps you make your content attractive for reading (division into sections, short sentences, use of transition words…etc). Being easy to read is always a guarantee for achieving a good  user experience  and encourages sharing .

3.2. Social

I don’t dwell much on this section. Just know that you can edit the metadata we talked about before, for the specific post or page.

3.3. Advanced

This section is very important, since it helps you solve duplicate content problems.

If there is a specific URL that is generating duplicate content you can:

  • Ask robots  not  to  index it . To avoid competition with other URLs on your same website (  Noindex Meta robots )
  • Ask robots  not  only  not  to index it but also not  to crawl its links  (Meta robots  Nofollow )
  • Indicate that there is  another more important URL , which should be indexed due to the possibility of  duplicate content ( Canonical  URL  ). This is a classic pagination problem.
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