19 September 2023
Every WordPress website needs a Search Engine Optimization plugin. It helps you show your pages and posts on search engine result pages. And when it comes to SEO plugins, Yoast SEO is one of the most popular options. However, WordPress SEO is undoubtedly a complex topic.
Fortunately, Yoast SEO offers plenty of built-in features to give you complete control over your site’s SEO. Plus, we’re here to walk you through all of the key areas to make SEO a bit less daunting.
In this beginner guide, we’ll show you what Yoast SEO is and then cover first-time tips and basic settings of how to use the Yoast SEO plugin.
Let’s get started!
Yoast SEO is one of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress, with millions of active installs. It offers a comprehensive set of tools for optimizing a website for search engines.
Its key features include the following:
After installing the Yoast SEO plugin, you can go to the dashboard by clicking on the Yoast SEO option in your WordPress admin area. For more, check out our beginner guide to installing a WordPress plugin.
If you are using the plugin for the first time, you should see a large notification with the option to click on Start first-time configuration:
By clicking the configuration wizard button, you can start configuring Yoast SEO on WordPress so that Google can better understand your content.
Below, we’ll walk you through the key elements of the configuration wizard.
In the “SEO Data Optimization” option, you can use Yoast’s indexables to instantly address any technical issues on your site. It functions similarly to how Google analyzes your website. However, if you have a lot of content, this may take a while:
It is important to remember that this setting is only available in the production environment. As a result, if your website is not in a production environment, simply click Continue.
In the “Site Representation” option, select the type of site that best fits yours. If your website represents a person, use the dropdown menu to choose the person. If your website represents an organization, enter the organization name:
Further down, you will be able to upload an organization logo or personal logo from your Media Library or computer.
Then, hit Save and continue to proceed.
In the “Social Profiles” option, enter all of the social media profiles for your website. If you’re creating a website for an organization, this will be your organization’s social media profiles:
Furthermore, you do not have to enter all of them. Simply select the social media profiles that you want to promote.
In the “Personal Preferences” option, you can determine whether you want Yoast SEO to track your website data:
Plus, you can also sign up for the Yoast newsletter to receive best-practice tips on how to rank, stay up-to-date with the latest SEO news, and get guidance on how to use Yoast SEO.
Lastly, you’ll need to finalize your Yoast SEO configuration. Plus, you can also register for Yoast’s free weekly webinar.
Congratulations, you just configured Yoast SEO! Now, you can click on the link to go to your new Yoast dashboard.
The Yoast SEO meta box is an on-page SEO tool that lets you optimize your SEO content in real-time for each post/page. Using the meta box improves your chances of ranking higher in SERPs.
The meta box is located at the bottom of the page editor.
If you’re using the new WordPress block editor, click the Yoast icon in the upper right to access the Yoast SEO meta box.
The SEO tab gives real-time content analysis for your post. It is known for its green, orange, and red traffic lights, giving you feedback that helps you optimize your content. Once you enter your focus keyword, Yoast analyzes the content and suggests improvements.
Below are some essential elements of the Yoast SEO tab:
A keyphrase (or keyword) is the main word or term you want your content to rank for in search results. You should conduct some basic keyword research to find a term that people are searching for.
Then, you plug that keyword into the focus keyphrase field. After that, Yoast SEO will start analyzing your content and give recommendations on how to improve it for better page ranking.
You’ll find the results and feedback in the SEO analysis section.
It’s important to note that the Yoast Focus keyphrase doesn’t help you rank in Google. It’s only advice to help you optimize your content.
The Google preview shows you how the Yoast plugin shows your page or post to Google. In other words, it gives an idea of how your page can appear in the search results for both desktop and mobile formats.
In the Google preview, you can set your SEO title, URL slug, and meta description. Make sure they all are not too long, and include your keyphrase for the best results.
This is, without a doubt, one of the most useful elements of Yoast SEO. If you use it properly, this can help you increase your organic click-through rate (CTR).
Yoast SEO Analysis provides an on-page SEO checklist and SEO score that you can use to optimize certain tasks to achieve a green light. It highlights problems, improvements, and good results.
In addition to listing SEO suggestions based on content and links, the SEO analysis will also check images to ensure you have images with keyphrases added to alt text. However, it does not take image size into consideration. As a result, you will need to use extra plugins for image optimization and caching to account for page speed SEO.
Here, you can choose whether or not to mark the post as cornerstone content.
Cornerstone content means the best, most important posts on your site. The posts you want to rank highest in the search engines. Cornerstone posts are large, informative articles that combine insights from other blog posts and cover everything relevant to a specific topic.
Additional SEO settings for your content are available under Advanced. You may specify whether or not to enable search engines to display the post in search results, set follow links, configure robot parameters, assign a breadcrumb title, and insert a canonical URL.
You can see the post’s Flesch reading ease score right here. This tells you how difficult it is to read your content. It also includes the word count and estimated reading time.
Readability is essential for excellent SEO because poorly structured or unclear text can lose your readers and confuse search engine crawlers.
In the Readability Analysis tab, Yoast, check your post to determine how easy it is to read.
It offers tips on how to improve various aspects of your content’s readability, similar to the “SEO Analysis” section. These include:
When you click the small “eye” icon next to some of these suggestions, the plugin will highlight relevant sentences of your text.
You may use Schema markup to optimize your site’s SEO, making it easier for search engines to index. In the Yoast SEO plugin, you can change schema settings in the dashboard or on each individual post and page. You no longer need a separate schema plugin on your site. Yoast’s Schema settings will be enough.
In the Social tab, you can configure how the content appears when shared on Facebook or Twitter:
Most of the time, you won’t have to manually configure this information for each post because Yoast will generate it automatically depending on:
However, if you want to change the defaults, this is the place to do so.
Keep in mind, though, that you will need Yoast Premium to enable social previews of your content.
Now that you’ve set up Yoast SEO and understand the meta box let’s take a look at the dashboard.
On the main page of the Yoast Dashboard, you’ll be alerted about any potential SEO issues and notifications on your site:
To access Yoast SEO’s sitewide settings, go to Yoast SEO » Settings from your WordPress admin menu.
From here, you can see Yoast SEO settings under four different sections.
The “General” section has four subsections with various settings.
In the “Site features” subsection, you can enable or disable certain features (such as the SEO Analysis and Readability analysis features described above).
You can also view your Yoast SEO sitemap here. Simply scroll down to the APIs section and click the “View the XML Sitemap” button.
The “Site basics” subsection lets you provide basic information about your site.
The “Site representation” subsection has the same information you submitted during the initial plugin configuration. Its purpose is to provide data to Google’s Knowledge Graph.
The “Site connections” subsection allows you to validate your site in other tools, such as Google Search Console.
The “Content types” area allows you to customize how different types of content appear in search engines and social media sites.
The content types are divided into four subsections: Homepage, Posts, Pages, and Landing pages.
These are the global settings for each of the content types. You can set them up differently for specific pages in the content editor.
For example, you can set the default page and post SEO title here but change it for each one in the “Google Preview” area of the Yoast SEO section in the editor.
The “Categories and Tags” section lets you customize the search and social media appearances for the taxonomies: categories and tags.
You can also disable search engines from indexing these taxonomies.
The “Advanced” section allows you to customize crawl optimization settings, breadcrumbs, and additional pages such as author archives, date archives, format archives, and special pages. Plus, there are additional options for media pages and RSS feeds.
The “Breadcrumbs” subsection allows you to customize the appearance of breadcrumbs on your site. There are several options for customizing the appearance of your breadcrumb navigation, choosing which taxonomies to display for content types, and more.
Under the “Archives” subsection, you can disable the author, date, or special page archives in the search results. Plus, you also have the option of showing or hiding the authors without posting the results.
Under Yoast SEO » Integrations, you’ll find a list of integrations, including Semrush, Wincher, WooCommerce, and others. Some integrations are only available with Yoast SEO Premium.
For example, when you integrate Semrush with Yoast SEO, it allows you to do keyword research directly into the WordPress editor without leaving your post.
However, to use this feature, first, you need to connect your Semrush account to your Yoast SEO plugin.
(If you don’t already have a Semrush account, create one for free. It allows you to make up to 10 requests in 24 hours.)
Under Yoast SEO » Tools, you will find powerful built-in tools that help you speed up your site, save time editing, and configure essential SEO files on your server.
One of the best things you can do here is to modify your site’s robots.txt file directly from your dashboard.
If you click the File editor option, Yoast will help you in creating a robots.txt file (if you haven’t one). After you’ve got the file, Yoast will allow you to change it straight in your dashboard:
If you don’t see the File editor option, it might be one of two reasons.
Yoast SEO is a must-have plugin for every site owner looking to improve their SEO. It has a number of features designed to give advanced optimization. Furthermore, most of its SEO features are preconfigured and ready to use, making it ideal for beginners.
In this guide, we have gone through the steps of how to use Yoast SEO, from configuring to basic Yoast settings. Once you have all settings configured, all that’s left to do is optimize your content in the Meta Box for Yoast SEO.
To do so, pay attention to the following vital elements:
Although Yoast SEO helps optimize your site’s content, more SEO strategies must be performed to make sure your website ranks well in the SERPs.
We hope this beginner’s guide has helped you learn how to use the Yoast SEO plugin in WordPress.
For more, check out these other helpful resources:
Yes. Yoast SEO offers a free version that you can use for free. The free version includes all of the essential SEO features that you need to get started, including: SEO analysis, Readability analysis, Focus keyphrase analysis, and many more.
If you need more advanced SEO features, such as social media integration, internal linking suggestions, and related keyword suggestions, you can upgrade to Yoast SEO Premium.
Using a WordPress SEO plugin provides several advantages over not using one.
For example, without a plugin, you wouldn’t be able to do some things in WordPress—like editing title tags or noindexing specific pages—without touching the code.
Yoast SEO premium costs you only $99 for one site, including one year of free updates and support.
There is no clear answer to how long Yoast SEO takes to work. It typically depends on the type of keywords you want to target. However, it may take 2 to 3 months to see organic results and search traffic to your site.