Ready to configure the best settings for Rank Math?
This tutorial covers everything you need to know about Rank Math’s settings including which modules I recommend (or don’t), WooCommerce settings, and adding schema. If you like this guide, I have a few other guides on researching focus keywords and an on-page SEO checklist.
I’ll also cover settings for Rank Math Pro (aff link). I don’t think Yoast Premium is worth it, but Rank Math Pro is if you learn what it can actually do for your SEO, especially the schema. I was also able to delete several SEO plugins and just use Rank Math, but you can decide for yourself.
I didn’t want to add these screenshots throughout the post because it would make it ridiculously long. You can click on these thumbnails and they will show my recommended settings for each tab. Just keep in mind the reasons I chose these are explained in the guide. Some settings will be different depending on your site, so be sure to customize them yourself.
Too Long? Here’s A Summary
- Use the setup wizard to transfer SEO data from your old plugin to Rank Math.
- Only enable modules you use, some modules like Analytics cause database bloat.
- Sign up for Google Search Console, submit your XML sitemap, and fix any errors.
- Use Rank Math’s bulk editor to edit SEO titles + meta description to improve CTR.
- Markup content with schema (i.e. reviews, articles, video) to further improve CTR.
- Upload custom social sharing images (OpenGraph) and upload a default one as well.
- Don’t index tags, archive, and non-helpful pages as they can cause duplicate content.
- Rank Math lets you set default SEO titles + meta descriptions, but write custom ones.
- If using Rank Math Pro, enable image SEO and video sitemap modules, automatic alt attributes (General Settings → Images), autodetect video (Titles → Posts), autogenerate thumbnail, and markup your content with all relevant schema types to improve your CTR.
1. Setup Wizard
If you haven’t switched to Rank Math, use the setup wizard which lets you easily import your SEO data from your old SEO plugin (i.e. Yoast) to Rank Math. Install the Rank Math plugin, sign up for an account, connect it, and use the setup wizard to import your SEO data to Rank Math. You can also import schema from WP Schema Pro and All In One Schema under Status & Tools.
Installing Rank Math Pro – follow this video if using Rank Math Pro. After you buy it, you will need to connect your site to Rank Math, download the plugin from their website, and upload it. You will be prompted to connect your account, then you can proceed to using the setup wizard.
The first thing you should do is enable Advanced Mode (instead of Easy Mode) under Rank Math → Dashboard. This expands more modules. Some are free, others require the pro version.
Only enable modules you actually use and disable modules you don’t use. Some modules (i.e. Rank Math Analytics) can cause database bloat. For example, I turned the analytics module OFF and get data directly from Google Search Console to avoid my database getting bloated. I only use the ACF, image SEO, instant indexing, redirect, schema, sitemap, and video sitemap module.
- 404 Monitor – track 404 errors, view the error log, and use it to fix redirect errors. I recommend disabling it when you’re done to prevent database bloat.
- ACF – enables Rank Math’s content analysis for Advanced Custom Fields.
- AMP – enable if using accelerated mobile pages (which I don’t recommend).
- Analytics – see Search Console, Analytics, and AdSense data directly in Rank Math, but causes database bloat and I would just use Search Console instead.
- bbPress – enables better control of bbPress discussion boards with meta tags.
- BuddyPress – better control of BuddyPress discussion boards with meta tags.
- Image SEO – adds alt text automatically to images (this can be a big time saver).
- Instant Indexing – notify Bing when your pages are added, updated or removed.
- Link Counter – counts the number of internal/external links in posts for on-page SEO, but I don’t see myself using this anyway, and it also causes database bloat.
- Local SEO & Knowledge Graph – expands local SEO options in Rank Math’s settings to tell Google about your business, and it creates a local (KML) sitemap.
- News Sitemap – only enable if you’re publishing content using Google News.
- Redirections – create redirects in Rank Math (server-level redirects are faster).
- Schema (Structured Data) – markup pages/posts with schema to improve CTR.
- Role Manager – restrict features for users depending on roles you assign them.
- SEO Analysis – analyzes your site and provides SEO suggestions from Rank Math (this is different than the content analysis with on-page SEO suggestions).
- Sitemap – creates an XML sitemap (supports hreflang tag) + submit to Google.
- Video Sitemap – creates a video sitemap (great if your site has lots of videos).
- Google Web Stories – optimize web stories in Rank Math (see examples here).
- WooCommerce – activates multiple WooCommerce options in Rank Math’s setting to help you optimize WooCommerce with meta data + product schema.
3. General Settings
- Strip Category Base: ON – removes /category/ from URLs.
- Redirect Attachments: ON – images and other files create an attachment URL which should be redirected to the post it was uploaded to. This is recommended by Rank Math.
- Redirect Orphan Attachments: Homepage – same concept as previous setting only for images/attachments that aren’t attached to a parent post (these are called orphan media).
- Nofollow External Links: OFF – external links are like citing sources to Google and helps with on-page SEO. Nofollow prevents Google from following them and can hurt your SEO.
- Open External Links in New Tab/Window: ON – external links will be opened in a new window so people don’t leave your website (internal links should be in the same window).
- Affiliate Link Prefix: if you use affiliate links, the prefix is how the link will be cloaked. See this example of my aff link to Cloudways: https://onlinemediamasters.com/go/cloudways/
If you don’t use breadcrumbs, there’s no need to configure anything here. If you want to add breadcrumbs, you’ll need to add them to your theme, then configure the breadcrumb settings.
Breadcrumb Example: You are here: Home » Knowledge Base » Rank Math Settings
- Enable breadcrumbs function: ON – needs to be on to display breadcrumbs.
- Separator Character: » is fine, it’s just the arrow that points to your breadcrumbs.
- Show Homepage Link: ON – this will show your homepage link in breadcrumbs.
- Homepage label: Home – the label of your homepage link, so it’s probably home.
- Homepage Link: https://yourwebsite.com – obviously it should be your homepage.
- Prefix Breadcrumb: You are here – the text that shows before your breadcrumbs.
- Archive Format: Archives For %s – Rank Math recommends using the %s in this field.
- Search Results Format: Results For %s – label used in search result breadcrumbs.
- 404 label: 404 Error: Page Not Found – label used in your 404 page breadcrumbs.
- Hide Post Title: OFF – hides post title in breadcrumbs which I wouldn’t recommend.
- Show Category(s): ON – displaying the category shows people where they actually are.
- Hide Taxonomy Name: OFF – Rank Math’s documentation recommends leaving this off.
- Show Blog Page: OFF – this is a preference, but I don’t see a reason to show the blog page.
- Add missing ALT attributes: ON – automatically adds image alt text which is a big time saver since WordPress stopped doing it automatically. One reason I got Rank Math Pro.
- Alt attribute format: %filename% – Rank Math will automatically add alt text based on the image file name, but make sure you label images before uploading them to WordPress.
- Add missing TITLE attributes: OFF – if you use image titles (what people see when they hover over a link), it’s best to write these manually and not generate them automatically. This is strictly for users so people know what they’re clicking on, and doesn’t impact SEO.
- Add missing image caption: OFF – unless you want image captions added automatically, leave this disabled. If you enable it, you can specify which caption format you want to use.
- Add missing image description: OFF – image descriptions are the text that shows up on image attachment pages which you should have disabled, so there’s no reason to use this.
- Change casings: No Change – you can have Rank Math automatically change your image titles, alt text, descriptions, and captions to uppercase, lowercase, etc. No reason for this.
- Add ALT attributes for avatars: OFF – no need to add alt text to commenter’s avatars since people’s profile images don’t have anything to do with optimizing the main content.
- Replacements: search/replace feature for your image alt text if you need to update them.
Sign up for Google Search Console → Add Property → URL Prefix Method → HTML Tag Verification Method. Copy the code and paste it into the Google Search Console field in Rank Math. Most other Webmaster Tools have the same process, but Google is the most important.
Use Rank Math to edit your robots.txt file which you can find here: yourwebsite.com/robots.txt. Your main sitemap should be listed in robots.txt, otherwise there’s usually nothing special to do.
- Show SEO Score to Visitors: OFF – no reason you should be publicly displaying this.
- RSS Before Content: Leave blank – unless you want to add content before RSS feed.
- RSS After Content: Leave blank – unless you want to add content after RSS feed.
- Remove Media Data from RSS feed: OFF – no reason to remove media from RSS feed.
- Remove base: OFF – removes /shop/ from URLs with WooCommerce. WooCommerce doesn’t recommend doing it with product, product-category, or shop URLs stating it can cause problems with performance and duplicate URLs. However, short URLs are said to be more SEO-friendly, so this is really personal preference and depends on your website.
- Remove category base: OFF – same as above but removes /product-category/ in URLs.
- Remove parent slugs: OFF – same as above but removes the parent category from URLs.
- Remove Generator Tag: ON – Rank Math recommends removing due to security reasons.
- Remove Schema Markup on Shop Archives: OFF – if schema is on WooCommerce shop archive pages and you want to keep it, leave off. If you don’t want schema here, toggle on.
- Select Brand: select the taxonomy for your brand listings so schema is setup accordingly.
- Global Identifier: select your Unique Product Identifier. If you do, Rank Math will ask if you want to show this on product pages, then prompt you to assign a label (see example).
- Noindex Hidden Products: ON – no-index products if WooCommerce Catalog is hidden.
- Mode: Simple – simple just shows the URL and time of error. Advanced also shows the referring URL of the error, but also consumes more server resources, so just use simple.
- Log Limit: 100 – this is how many rows are in the 404 Monitor. 100 is fine, but you can increase this if you notice you have 100 errors and need more rows in the 404 Monitor.
- Exclude Paths: use this if 404 logs get filled with unimportant and you want to exclude URLs, categories, keywords, or use RegEx to see important URLs so they’re not buried.
- Ignore Query Parameters: OFF – Rank Math recommends disabling it, but enable if you see lots of errors in the log file which have the same URL but different query parameters.
- Debug Redirections: OFF – use this to debug redirect errors if you notice issues.
- Fallback Behavior: Default 404 – if a URL isn’t found or a redirect doesn’t work, people will see this page. I changed this to my 404 page which shows a cool pic of my dad and I.
- Redirection Type: 301 Permanent Move – redirects should usually be permanent.
- Auto Post Redirect: ON – automatically create a redirect when you change a URL.
This is where you connect Search Console, Analytics, and AdSense to Rank Math so you can view data directly in Rank Math’s Analytics dashboard. Rank Math has a great tutorial in this. Sure it’s convenient, but connecting too many analytics can quickly bloat your database. You may want to install the WP-Optimize plugin and keep on eye on how much overhead the analytics adds to your database. It’s a great way to track which keywords go up or down in rankings, CTR, earning reports, etc. But you can also view these directly in their dashboards.
4. Titles & Meta
- Robots Meta: Index – the default should be index so your content shows in search engines. Not sure why Rank Math’s recommended settings show nothing is selected.
- Advanced Robots Meta: -1, -1, Large – “-1” lets Google use any character number in snippets, any number of seconds in video previews, and large images for preview images.
- Noindex Empty Category and Tag Archives: OFF – if you created categories or tags which no posts are filed under, it means they’re empty and shouldn’t be indexed. But you should really just delete categories/tags with no posts since there’s nothing under them.
- Separator Character: – works fine. You should be writing custom SEO titles anyway, otherwise this will be used as the separator character between your title and sitename.
- Capitalize Titles: OFF – you’ll likely be capitalizing the first character of titles anyway.
- OpenGraph Thumbnail: I would upload your logo or an image of yourself that is 1200 x 630px. This is the OpenGraph image people see when your site is shared on Facebook, but this only shows when you don’t specify a custom social sharing image on a page/post.
- Twitter Card Type: Summary card with large image – this is standard (see this example).
- Custom Image Watermarks: adds a watermark to social sharing images (likely your logo).
- Default Thumbnail Watermark: if you added a watermark, use it, or just use the default.
- Person or Company: enter whether you’re a person or company.
- Name: enter your company name or your name for a personal site.
- Logo: upload your logo which should ideally be 1920 x 1080 pixels.
- URL: enter your domain name (i.e. https://onlinemediamasters.com).
- Email: I prefer [email protected] so you don’t get spam emails.
- Phone: enter your business phone number which can show on mobile.
- Address: enter your business address, city, state, zip code, and country.
- About Page: search for your about page so you can use it in meta data.
- Contact Page: search for your contact page so you can use it in meta data.
This is just a shortcut where you can edit your homepage’s SEO title, meta description, and OpenGraph snippet. Your homepage usually targets the main keyword for your blog/business.
This should be OFF to prevent duplicate content. Author archives list all posts written by authors, but unless you’re running a huge blog where you really need this, it should be disabled.
- Date Archives: OFF – similar to author archives (can create duplicate content).
- 404 Title: whatever you want the SEO title for your 404 page to be.
- Search Results Title: same thing as above only for the search results pages.
- Noindex Search Results, Paginated Pages, Archive Subpages, Password Protected Pages: ON – you generally don’t want any of these pages indexed since they can cause duplicate content or are just not helpful pages and make no sense appearing in Google.
- Single Post Title: %title% – the title usually has enough characters without needing to add the sitename. This is used as the default SEO title for posts, but write them manually.
- Single Post Description: %excerpt% – if you don’t write a custom meta description, an excerpt will be used which is up to Google (this will be any content displayed on the post).
- Schema Type: ARTICLE – this makes sense for nearly all blogs since the posts are articles.
- Headline: %title% – title makes sense without using a separator character or sitename.
- Description: %excerpt% – again, you can just use an excerpt to be used as the description.
- Article Type: Article – articles are long, blog posts are shorter, news is backed by facts.
- Autodetect Video: pro feature which detects videos on posts and adds video schema automatically (big time saver). However, sometimes a post contains multiple videos and schema will be created for each video. So Google videos might not show the correct one.
- Autogenerate Image: ON – downloads YouTube thumbnail image and uses it in schema.
- Post Robots Meta: Enable + Index – all posts will be indexed as shown in Global Meta.
- Post Advanced Robots Meta: -1, -1, Large – the same settings as shown in Global Meta.
- Link Suggestions: OFF – I only use internal links when they make sense and don’t try to blindly add them based on suggestions. But if you need suggestions when writing, enable.
- Primary Taxonomy: None or categories – if none, the URL will be used instead of the breadcrumb. If category, the category will be used. Tags usually wouldn’t make sense.
- Add SEO Controls: ON – enables Rank Math’s meta box on posts to control their SEO.
- Bulk Editing: Enabled – bulk editing is an underrated feature. Why not go through all of your post’s SEO titles and meta descriptions and make sure they’re well-written so you can improve CTR? Just make sure they also use your keyword and are the correct length.
- Single Page Title: %title% %sep% %sitename% – the reason I use the separator and sitename is because page titles are often shorter than post titles. A post title might be “How To Setup The Ideal Rank Math Settings For 2021” while a page’s title might be “WordPress SEO Consultant.” So in pages, there is usually extra room for your sitename.
- Single Page Description: %excerpt% – like posts, you can use an excerpt for descriptions.
- Schema Type: None – unless there’s a specific type of schema that applies to your pages, this should be set to none. If only some pages have schema, you can add schema manually.
- Rest Of Settings: the remaining settings should usually be the same as your post settings.
You shouldn’t see settings here because you should have redirected attachments to the parent.
- Single Product Title: %title% %sep% %sitename% – same format as pages makes sense.
- Single Product Description: %excerpt% – excerpts usually make sense for a description.
- Schema Type: WooCommerce Product – enables your WooCommerce product schema.
- Autodetect Video: ON – Rank Math will detect videos and add the schema automatically.
- Autogenerate Image: ON – downloads YouTube thumbnail image and uses it in schema.
- Product Robots Meta: OFF – default indexing should be ON, there’s no need to change it.
- Link Suggestions: OFF – turn off unless you need link recommendations on these pages.
- Primary Taxonomy: Product Categories – use whichever makes sense for your products.
- Add SEO Controls: ON – you want to optimize product pages, so this should be enabled.
- Bulk Editing: Enabled – allows you to bulk edit SEO titles + meta description of products.
- Custom Fields: Rank Math says if your products use custom fields to display data on the frontend, this will let Rank Math include the data from them during an on-page analysis.
- Default Thumbnail Watermark: Custom – if you uploaded a custom watermark, use that.
- Category Archive Titles: %term% %sep% %sitename% – similar to regular pages, the titles of your category pages are usually short enough to also include your sitename here.
- Category Archive Descriptions: %term_description% – the default template will be fine.
- Category Archives Robots Meta: Enable + index – only index category pages if you have a decent amount of posts under your categories, the category pages are designed to look nice, and are ideally optimized for a keyword. Some blogs index category pages that look terrible, so when people actually click them in search results, they will exit immediately.
- Category Archives Advanced Robots Meta: -1, -1, Large – same Global Meta settings.
- Add SEO Controls: ON – if you’re indexing category pages, you may as well enable SEO controls so you can use the meta box to optimize them for a keyword about the category.
- Remove Snippet Data: ON – I don’t see a reason you would use schema in category pages.
- Default Thumbnail Watermark: OFF – I don’t see a reason you would use Watermark on your category page’s social sharing image either since they probably won’t ever be shared.
Make sure tags are noindexed, then you shouldn’t have to mess around with any of these settings. Tag pages usually cause duplicate content and I usually wouldn’t waste time on them.
- Category Archive Titles: %term% %sep% %page% %sep% %sitename% is what I used.
- Category Archive Descriptions: %term_description% makes sense as a meta description.
- Category Archives Robots Meta: OFF – default is indexed, so there’s nothing to do here.
- Add SEO Controls: ON – leave on in case you want to optimize titles + meta descriptions.
- Remove Snippet Data: ON – you usually don’t have schema data here, enable otherwise.
- Default Thumbnail Watermark: if you added a watermark, use it, or just use the default.
- Tag Archive Titles: %term% %sep% %page% %sep% %sitename% is what I used.
- Tag Archive Descriptions: %term_description% makes sense as a meta description.
- Tag Archives Robots Meta: ON – product tag pages should usually be noindexed.
- Add SEO Controls: OFF – these are noindexed, so no reason to add titles + descriptions.
- Remove Snippet Data: ON – you usually don’t have schema data here, enable otherwise.
- Default Thumbnail Watermark: OFF – your tag pages probably won’t be shared anyway.
5. Sitemap Settings
- Links Per Sitemap: 200 – this fine, it’s how many links appear in the sitemap page.
- Images In Sitemap: ON – including images in your sitemap helps with image search.
- Include Featured Images: ON – Rank Math recommends using them in the sitemap.
- Exclude Posts + Terms: Leave blank: not sure why you wouldn’t want these included.
- Ping Search Engines: ON – this will ping search engines when your sitemap is updated.
- Include Pages/Posts In Sitemap: ON – of course you want pages/posts in your sitemap.
- Include Attachments In Sitemap: OFF – Rank Math recommends leaving this disabled.
- Include Products In Sitemap: ON – only shown if you activated WooCommerce module.
- Include Categories In Sitemap: ON – include these but disable “include empty terms.”
- Include Tags In Sitemap: Rank Math says “enable only one taxonomy archive in your sitemap. So, if you’ve enabled category archives, there’s no need to enable tag archives.”
- Video Sitemap: OFF – you don’t need to hide this from visitors since no one will probably go to it. Then select the content that actually contains videos. For me, this would be posts.
- Include KML File in the Sitemap: ON – only shown if you activated the local SEO module.
6. Schema Templates
If you add similar schema to multiple pages/posts, schema templates can save time.
I use video schema on a lot of my tutorials. So I created a template for video schema to save time whenever I’m adding video schema. Then I just change the fields for that specific video.
Step 1: Enable the Schema Module under Rank Math → Dashboard → Modules.
Step 2: Go to Rank Math → Schema Templates, click “Add New” at the top, then you’ll be prompted to select your schema type. Fill out the fields you want to use in your template.
Step 3: Once saved, you can add it to any page/post where you want that schema type. Edit a post, scroll down to the Rank Math section, and go to Schema → Schema Generator → Your Templates. Click “Use” and you’ll see your template. Finally, customize the fields for the schema.
Step 4: Click Code Validation → Test With Google.
Step 5: Use the tool to test the URL in Google’s rich results test and check for errors.
7. Status & Tools
You usually don’t need to do anything here unless you made major changes to your site and need to delete or regenerate things in your database. You can turn on automatic updates, rollback to the previous version, or use the database tools to generate video schema for old posts, convert FAQ and HowTo schema from Yoast to Rank Math, and delete old schema data.
I generally don’t recommend Rank Math’s analytics because:
- You can get this data directly in Search Console, Analytics, and AdSense.
- Statistics are infamous for causing database bloat and can slow down your site.
Of course I think it’s a good idea to track keywords, ranking position, and CTR. The most important metric IMO is which pages are dropping in rankings so you can go back and improve the content. But otherwise, I would turn the Analytics module OFF and just use Search Console.
Manage redirects and see how many hits they have. Remember to enable “Auto Post Redirect” in General Settings → Redirections so they are created automatically when a URL is changed.
10. Rank Math Pro – Worth It?
Rank Math Pro is great, but here’s a perfect explanation:
Just buying the plugin won’t help SEO. You need to use it’s extra features to make it worth it. In my case, I was able to delete several plugins (Yoast, Schema Pro, Redirections, Auto Image Attributes) and use Rank Math for everything. I’m also in the process of converting FAQ schema from Structured Content to Rank Math. But probably the biggest thing was schema. I use Rank Math’s article, FAQ, video, and software schema (for reviews) on posts to improve CTR. It also does local, video, and WooCommerce SEO, so you get all features from Yoast Premium plugins.
It makes other SEO plugins obsolete:
- WP Schema Pro
- All In One Schema
- Auto Image Attributes
- All Of Yoast’s Premium Plugins
You can view their free vs. pro comparison page here:
Even if you don’t need the pro version, I still prefer the free version over Yoast.
Did I Miss Anything?
If you want me to add something in this tutorial, leave a comment with your suggestion. Rank Math has lots of documentation / support, so please don’t bombard me with support requests :)
If you liked this tutorial, this one’s solid too: My Ultimate WordPress Speed Guide