The Ideal Yoast WordPress SEO Settings: A Complete Guide To Optimizing WordPress With Yoast’s Plugin (Updated 2019, V.11.7.0)

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yoast seo wordpress plugin

Everyone has Yoast, but few use it correctly.

No worries. This tutorial breaks it down into 3 key steps: configuring the Yoast SEO settings (including adding AMP Pages to make mobile pages load faster), researching long-tail focus keywords, and optimizing content (there’s more to it than green lights). I will also show you how to connect Yoast to Google Search Console so you can fix crawl errors (broken pages).

This is a COMPLETE guide to Yoast. If you don’t have Yoast go to plugins → add new → search Yoast SEO → install/activate. If you already have Yoast, make sure it’s updated to the latest version. Leave a comment if you have questions and if you like this tutorial, check out my other guides like my WordPress SEO and WordPress speed guide which are both ridiculously good.

yoast in wp dashboard

 

Important Things To Know Before Using Yoast

People waste too much time trying to get green lights and not enough time on keyword research (or making their content better than whoever’s in the top results). Before you start, read these tips to avoid wasting your time which is seriously a big issue when people use Yoast.

  • Do not obsess over green lights – check out Backlinko’s on-page SEO infographic
  • Do not blindly select keywords – look for long-tail (3+ word phrases) in Google Autocomplete, then Google it to see whether top results cover the topic extensively
  • Do not stuff keywords in your content to try and get your lights green (this is spammy)
  • Good on-page SEO means creating comprehensive content (3,000+ words, videos, etc)
  • The most important place to use your focus keyword is the page title, URL, SEO title, meta description, and once in the first couple sentences of the content body. That’s it!
  • Yoast (and all SEO plugins) do very little for on-page SEO – most of it is advice. Spend more time on keyword research, and add an HTML table of contents to longer posts.

Version 14.2 and Counting

Though not one of its biggest releases to date, Yoast continues to push out bug fixes and enhancements to their popular SEO plugin: Yoast SEO. In fact, one of the biggest fixes made with this update had to do with breadcrumbs that were saving in reverse order (yikes!). It also changed how the plugin checks for previously used focus keywords, making it more efficient for publishers.

1. General

Dashboard
general yoast dashboard tab

Features
general yoast features tab

Below is a screenshot of each feature:
I disabled a few of them… I don’t use the Readability Analysis since I don’t need Yoast “grading” my content (eg. whether my sentences are too long). I use internal links naturally in my content and don’t need Yoast’s Text Link Counter reminding me to add them. I don’t need Ryte to constantly check whether my site is indexed in search engines (it obviously is), and I never use Yoast’s Admin Dropdown Menu. See what features you like, enable them, and disable the rest.

SEO Analysis
Yoast SEO Analysis

Readability Analysis
Yoast Readability Analysis

Cornerstone Content
Yoast-Cornerstone-Content

Cornerstone-Content-Filter

Text Link Counter
Yoast-Text-Link-Counter-Feature

Insights
Yoast Content Insights

Link Suggestions
Yoast-Internal-Linking

XML Sitemaps
Yoast-XML-Sitemap-Setting

Ryte Integration
Yoast-Ryte-Analysis

Admin Bar Menu
add menu to wordpress dashboard

Security: No Advanced Settings For Authors
Yoast-Advanced-Settings

Webmaster Tools
Next, we’ll sign up for each Webmaster Tools (Google/Bing/Yandex/Baidu) and verify each one using the HTML verification method. Then we can can submit your Yoast XML sitemap to them. I personally use Google Search Console religiously to fix broken pages (crawl errors) with redirects, use Search Analytics to find keywords/pages I rank for, HTML improvements to fix errors in SEO titles + meta descriptions, and monitor mobile/security issues as well as links to my site. Here’s my complete Google Search Console tutorial which I would definitely skim.

Yoast-Webmaster-Tools

Verify Webmaster Tools

Submit Your Yoast XML Sitemap To Google + Bing + Yandex

  • In Yoast, go to General → Features → XML Sitemaps
  • Click the question mark icon by the XML Sitemaps option
  • Click your XML Sitemap link
  • Copy the last past of the URL: /sitemap_index.xml
  • Login to Google Search Console
  • On the left, go to Crawl → Sitemaps
  • Paste the last part of your sitemap URL into Google Search Console
  • Test and submit
  • Repeat for Bing + Yandex

Yoast-XML-Sitemap-Setting

Yoast Sitemap

 

2. Search Appearance

General
Yoast-General-Settings

Title Separator – when using snippet variables, this is the dash (or other special character) that is usually between your page/post title and site name. Example: Page Title Site Name.

Snippet Variables – templates used for SEO titles/meta descriptions only IF you forget to write them, which you should never forget to do. So as long as you’re writing these manually, they don’t matter. You should take the time to write them so they sound nicer than a template.

Yoast Basic Variables

Why you shouldn’t use them…

The title of this post you’re reading is 160+ characters long (well over the 60 character limit for SEO titles). If I relied on Yoast to create my SEO title using snippet variables, it would be longer than 60 characters and get cut off, making my snippet look horrible. Instead, I wrote it myself so it reads nicely: The Ideal Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin Settings (2018, Version 7.9).

Yoast-Snippet-Variables

Homepage – the homepage usually targets a broad keyword about your main product/service (eg. Chicago Wedding Photographer). Use this in your homepage SEO title + meta description:

Homepage-Snippet

Content Types
content types - posts

content types - pages

Show Posts In Search Results – control whether posts/pages are indexed in search engines.

Date In Snippet Preview – adding dates to your snippets (specifically adding them on time sensitive articles) makes content look new and can significantly increase click-through rates.

Publish Date

In addition to enabling this in Yoast, you also need to add the “post modified date” to the top of your posts (called the entry meta section). For me, this is in the Genesis Simple Edits settings…

Entry Meta

This is what it looks like on a post…

Entry Post Modified Date

Now, anytime you update a post, the post modified date refreshes to current day and will update in search results. Yes, you can go through ALL posts and make your content look brand new. But don’t abuse it, I try to only do it when I’m making an update to a time sensitive article.

Update WordPress Post

Yoast SEO Meta Box – this is the SEO analysis with content optimization recommendations. You definitely want this for pages, posts, and blog category pages if you’re optimizing those.

Media
Yoast-Media-Settings

Taxonomies
Yoast-Taxonomies-Settings

Which Content Shouldn’t Be Shown In Search Results – tags, portfolio categories, slideshows, format, and other non-useful content should usually not be shown in search results. Tags will usually cause duplicate content in Siteliner. If you have a nice portfolio, or your blog categories pages are well-designed with many articles under that category, by all means include it in search results. But if you wouldn’t spend more than 30 seconds on that page, don’t index it.

Archives
Yoast-Archives-Settings

Breadcrumbs
Yoast-Breadcrumbs-Settings

Breadcrumbs – navigation text that appears at the top of your content:

Breadcrumbs

It helps users and search engines learn your content and site structure. I don’t use breadcrumbs to prevent clutter, but I recommend them if you don’t mind the extra text. To enable breadcrumbs, add this code to Editor → Index.php by pasting it under get_header();

get_header(); ?>
<div id="primary"> 
<?php if ( function_exists('yoast_breadcrumb') ) {
yoast_breadcrumb('<p id="breadcrumbs">','</p>');
} ?>
<div id="content" role="main">

RSS
Yoast-RSS-Settings

 

3. Search Console

Authenticate Yoast With Google Search Console – this will show you crawl errors (broken pages on your site) so you can redirect them to the correct page on your site. You might have a lot of these if you ever changed permalinks, deleted pages, or migrated your website. You will need to verify Search Console under ‘General → Webmaster Tools’ before proceeding. Once verified, go here and click “Get Google Authorization Code” and it will prompt you with steps.

google search console authentication

Fix Crawl Errors With Redirects – after authenticating Search Console, give it a few minutes (or hours) so Google can populate your crawl errors. You will eventually see the errors (page not found, server errors, soft 404s…).

You should fix ALL these by setting up 301 redirects which come with Yoast SEO Premium, or try using the free Redirection plugin…

yoast-search-console-crawl-errors

Setup Redirects – to setup a 301 redirect using the Redirection plugin, install the plugin and go to Tools → Redirection (in the WordPress dashboard). Enter a URL from Yoast, then enter the correct URL (the most relevant page or post on your website)…

redirection example

More Google Search Console Optimizations – fixing crawl errors is just one of many ways to optimize your WordPress site with Google Search Console. I HIGHLY recommend looking through my Google Search Console tutorial to learn about rich snippets, international targeting, security issues, search analytics, and other important parts of your WordPress SEO.

Google Search Console

 

4. Social

Filling out Yoast’s social settings helps Google learn about your profiles, but the main thing is enabling each social network’s meta data. This allows you to upload custom graphics to each page/post which makes it’s image thumbnail format properly when that page is shared on social media. This is what Facebook Open GraphTwitter Cards, and Google+ meta data does.

Accounts
social profiles

Facebook
Yoast-Facebook-Settings

Facebook App ID – if you created a Facebook app, find your app ID and enter it here. Here’s a tutorial on how to create a Facebook app and what it does.

Twitter
Yoast-Twitter-Settings

Pinterest
pinterest-settings

You will need to complete a few additional steps to verify your site with Pinterest.

Social Media Optimization – once meta data is enabled for each social network, you can upload custom social media images in Yoast’s SEO analysis section using the “share” link (see below). This makes the content’s image thumbnail format properly when that page is shared on social media. Yes, this means you will need to create 2 separate graphics for every post.

  • Facebook Image: 1200 x 630px
  • Twitter Image: 1024 x 512px

Upload custom graphics to Facebook/Twitter…

yoast-social-media-optimization

Makes your content format nicely…

facebook-share

Controlling Facebook Ad Text With Yoast – if you’re boosting posts, Facebook won’t let you change the ad text. So before sharing your post on Facebook, give it the title you want using Yoast’s “Facebook Title” field (which can be different from the SEO title + meta description). If your Yoast Facebook title isn’t working right away, trying clearing your website’s cache. I have found it can sometimes take several days for it to update with new Facebook title and image.

Yoast Facebook Title

 

5. Tools

yoast seo tools

Bulk Editor – edit SEO titles and meta descriptions in bulk (without having to go through each individual page/post). Making sure these ready nicely can significantly increase click-through rates by making your snippets more appealing to click on. Don’t forget to include that post’s focus keyword in both places. SNIPPETS ARE LITERALLY THE FOREFRONT OF YOUR SEO!

Yoast-Bulk-Editor

File Editor – edit robots.txt and .htaccess files.

Import And Exportimport my recommended Yoast SEO settings or export your own Yoast settings to use on other websites you manage. If you’re currently using another WordPress SEO Plugin, use the “Import From Other SEO Plugins” tab to migrate it’s SEO data to Yoast.

import yoast settings

export yoast settings

import and export other data in yoast

 

6. Premium

Yoast SEO Premium is $89/year – I seriously only bought it because I write WordPress SEO tutorials for a living. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have it… setting multiple focus keywords isn’t useful, there are plenty of free redirect plugins, and internal link suggestions + content insights really don’t help me at all. Here’s an explanation of some of the highlighted features…

yoast pro versus free.1

yoast pro versus free.2

yoast pro versus free.3

Keyword Optimization (Multiple Focus Keywords) – there is a specific strategy for optimizing content for multiple keywords (see below). Secondary keywords are often included as partial matches which means the SEO analysis checklist is virtually useless, since Yoast only detects exact keyword matches. It does help you keep track of secondary keywords in your dashboard so you can use those partial matches, but don’t expect to get a lot of green lights. Targeting secondary keywords is more about crafting a nice SEO title + meta description to include individual words from both phrases – rather than simply listing keywords which looks spammy.

Yoast Multiple Focus Keywords

Preview Of Your Page – as long as you’re uploading custom images in Yoast’s “social sharing option” so your image formats properly Facebook and Twitter (step 4), you don’t need this. But if you like seeing how it looks directly in Yoast to make sure it looks good, that’s all this does.

yoast-social-previews

Link Suggestions
Yoast-Internal-Linking

Content Insights
Yoast Content Insights

Redirect Manager – use this to fix crawl errors (broken pages) from Yoast’s Search Console tab. Do this by add the old URL and new URL to redirect each one to the most appropriate page. If you already have redirects from the Redirection Plugin or .htaccess, you can import these into Yoast. While a free plugin like Quick Page/Post Redirect does the exact same thing, Yoast’s redirect manager will automatically setup a redirect if you ever change a permalink…

yoast-automatic-redirect

To setup a redirect, head to Yoast’s Search Console tab and find your crawl errors…

Yoast-Search-Console-Crawl-Errors

Now head to Yoast’s redirect manager (or the “Quick Redirects” section if using the Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin). Paste your broken URL into the “Old URL” field. The new URL should NOT always be your homepage – it should be the closest URL to your broken page.

Yoast-Redirects

Premium Support – I have never used their support, but you do get it with Yoast Premium.

 

7. AMP

Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are a Google project that make mobile pages load faster and adds an “AMP” sign to your mobile snippets. While this sounds good, you should usually avoid AMP. Take a look at Kinsta’s study on how mobile conversions dropped 59% after adding AMP. After reading that article, I decided to disable AMP on my own website (and I’m glad I did). The design isn’t nearly as nice and it’s a pain in the ass. Save yourself the trouble – I would avoid it.

amp-pages

AMP Instructions

  • Install the AMP Plugin by Automattic
  • Install the Glue For Yoast SEO AMP Plugin if using Yoast
  • Add /amp/ to any page on your website to see how it looks and make sure it works
  • Go to Yoast’s Settings → AMP to change your design and enable custom post types
  • Wait for Google to recrawl your site and add the AMP sign in mobile search results
  • Visit the Accelerated Mobile Pages section in Google Search Console to see errors

A common issue is featured images appearing on the top of posts when you might not want them too. There is a work around for this, but it’s not perfect. You can either have no featured image, or you can set a default featured image in Yoast under SEO → AMP → Design → Default Image. This will only show if NO featured image is set, but if one is, that is what will show on the top of the post. You can read Yoast’s AMP guide but I basically just summed it up.

If using Cloudflare, enable accelerated mobile links and show the AMP logo…

Cloudflare Accelerated Mobile Links

 

8. Import My Yoast Settings

To use my Yoast settings, download the zip file and upload it under SEO → Tools → Import And Export → Import. This configures the settings, it does not delete focus keywords or meta data.

Download My Yoast Settings (Updated 3/9/2018)

Things You Still Need To Do:

  • General → Webmaster Tools (verify your site with Google/Bing/Yandex)
  • Search Appearance → General (check if you have duplicate sitenames by hovering over your homepage’s browser tab, and if so, leave Force Rewrite Titles as enabled)
  • Search Appearance → General (fill out your homepage SEO title + meta description, and specify whether you’re a person or company)
  • Search Appearance → Content Types (choose which content you want shown in search results, and add publish dates to snippets on time-sensitive posts)
  • Search Appearance → Taxonomies (choose which content you want in search results)
  • Search Appearance → Breadcrumbs (add your website name as the “Anchor Text For Homepage” and follow Yoast’s tutorial to add breadcrumbs)
  • Search Console → Settings (authenticate Yoast with Google Search Console, wait a few days for the data to populate, then fix crawl errors (visit section). See my Google Search Console tutorial for even more tips on optimizing your website with Search Console)
  • Social → Enter URLs of your social profiles, upload your logo in the Facebook tab, enable Facebook Insights, and verify your site with Pinterest
  • Add AMP Pages (visit section)

 

9. Focus Keywords

Stop thinking you know your keywords and do the research. My method works quite well…

  • Find long-tail (specific) keywords in Autocomplete + Keyword Explorer
  • Write down all relevant phrases so you have a robust keyword list
  • Avoid keywords where strong content/websites are in the top results
  • Target keywords where search results contain weak/irrelevant content
  • Google each keyword using MozBar to learn each one’s estimated competition
  • Check OSE for your DA (domain authority), then Google your keyword using MozBar and check the top results to see what their DA is. Compete within your own DA range and if yours is low, target even more specific keywords which are less competitive.
  • You should be left with high opportunity keywords where you can get on page 1

Google Autocomplete
Go to google.com and start typing in a keyword to have Google complete the phrase (remember, you’re looking for long-tail phrases usually with 3+ words since those are much less competitive). You can also use an underscore character _ anywhere in the phrase and Google will fill in the blank. You will need to END on the underscore character for that method.

google-autocomplete-keywords

To see even more keywords in the dropdown, use plurals or different word ordering…

autocomplete-keywords

Each service (and location) should be targeted on separate pages on your website…

multiple-localized-keywords

For competitive blog post topics, always select a very specific (long-tail) keyword…

Long-Tail Keywords

You can do the same thing for YouTube video keywords…

youtube-autocomplete-keywords

How I found my keyword for this tutorial (which helped me optimize my content)…

Yoast-Keyword-Research

Yoast-Keyword

Moz Keyword Explorer (Better Than Keyword Planner)
To make sure you don’t miss any keywords from Google Autocomplete, use Moz Keyword Explorer which is like Google Keyword Planner only better (and free). Start with a broad phrase, run the tool, then under Group Keywords select “yes, with low lexical similarity.” This prevents you from having to scroll through similar keyword variations over and over again.

Moz Keyword Suggestions

HubShout WebGrader (Competitor Keywords)
To see a full keyword list for competitor websites, run them through HubShout WebGrader

My Keywords

MozBar (Keyword Competition)
Now you should have a robust keyword list. The final step is to install the MozBar Google Chrome Extension and Google each keyword. The higher the PA (page authority) and DA (domain authority), the more competitive the keyword. Try to select keywords within your own DA/PA range. You can increase these by creating awesome content to get links. The best keywords are those that if you Google, weak (or irrelevant) content exists in the top results.

Mozbar Keyword Competition

It’s a little outdated, but here’s a video I made on choosing keywords…

 

10. Content Optimization

The first step to optimizing content is researching focus keywords – make sure you do step 9 first. Then you can start creating content (or optimizing existing content) for those keywords.

What Yoast should say…

WARNING: injecting keywords in your content/snippets makes them look spammy! Have you thought about writing an SEO title + meta description to increase CTR? Every result in Google will be using the keyword – why would anyone click your link? Yes, you should use your keyword in the page title, SEO title, and meta description… but don’t inject keywords just to get green lights in Yoast. Forget about keyword density and keywords in subheadings… start thinking about adding a table of contents to longer posts, videos, infographics, rich snippets, social sharing images, and beefing up thin content to make it better (more detailed) than everyone else’s.

Basic Rules Of Yoast:
The green light obsession – if you’re copying/pasting focus keywords throughout your content to make Yoast happy, stop it right now. This article you’re reading is well optimized (it’s super useful and organized) and half my bullets are red. Stop obsessing over green lights and start obsessing over your content. Add an infographic and video to a page and see what happens.

You can only set 1 focus keyword – Yoast premium allows up to 5, but if you don’t have success with 1 keyword then don’t try 2. However it’s not that hard (just make sure the secondary keyword is very similar to your primary) and sprinkle partial matches throughout the content. Generally, each unique keyword should have it’s own page with content reflecting that phrase. Each of your services will have it’s own page – sometimes multiple pages. I have separates pages for WordPress SEO Services, WordPress SEO Consulting, WordPress SEO Audit, etc.

Yoast doesn’t always detect keywords – sometimes it won’t pick up on synonyms or partial matches. If my focus keyword is SEO Consultant and I use SEO Consulting in the content, Yoast may not count this keyword. But I can assume keyword density is higher than Yoast says.

Find a balance between keywords and using a nice page title, SEO title, and meta description – there’s a fine line between writing a headline that sounds good, and writing a headline so it includes your keyword. Find the right balance. Crafting a headline that people will actually click on is a huge part of content optimization.

Yoast only detects keywords in the main content body and search engine snippet – not the sidebars, not the footer, just those two areas. This is also good since search engines analyze content in blocks and your content body/search engine snippets are the important areas.

Focus keyword for homepage – your homepage should usually target your primary keyword. If you have a widgetized homepage you won’t have Yoast’s SEO analysis checklist (since you’re using widgets). But that’s OK, just use the same on-page SEO strategies as the other pages.

You usually do want to target a focus keyword for these pages…

  • Homepage
  • Product/service pages
  • Location pages
  • Blog posts (non-promotional keywords)

You usually don’t want to target a focus keyword for these pages…

  • Contact page
  • Team pages (unless their names are being searched for)
  • Testimonials
  • Work/portfolio
  • Main blog page

Now create a page, set your focus keyword, write some content, and see my suggestions…

Yoast-SEO-Analysis

Focus Keyword – use Google Autocomplete to find long-tail (specific) phrases, then Google the keyword and analyze the search results with MozBar’s Chrome Extension. Look for keywords with weak content in the top results and avoid competing with authority websites.

Never Target The Same Keyword On 2 Pages – if you’re going to spend time creating 2 pages targeting the same keyword, you might as well spend all that time on 1 page and make the content awesome. I would rather have 1 amazing piece of content than 2 mediocre articles.

Page Title – include your keyword here. If it’s a blog post make sure you write a kick-ass headline preferably with your focus keyword in the beginning of the title. Posts usually have a longer, more descriptive title, page titles are usually shorter and just list a product/service.

URL – shorten URLs to not include stop words (and put emphasis on your focus keyword) UNLESS this makes the URL ready funny. I shortened mine to /yoast-wordpress-seo-settings/

SEO Title – these are the blue links in search results and are the FIRST thing people see. They should be 50-60 characters (length bar in Yoast should be green). If it’s a page, don’t just use “Chicago Wedding Photographer – Tom Dupuis.” Use a modifier to spice up your headline so more people click on it… “Award Winning Chicago Wedding Photographer – Tom Dupuis.” SEO titles for posts can be similar to the title, but adjust it to read nicely in those 50-60 characters.

Meta Description – 150-160 character description of your content, primarily used to increase CTR and get people clicking your link, but should also include your focus keyword.

Image Alt Text – do not stuff keywords here, just describe the image! As long as you’re writing descriptive file names before uploading, you can use the Automatic Image Alt Attributes plugin to automatically use the file name as the alt text, so you don’t have to do this manually.

Keyword Density – Yoast exaggerates the importance of keyword density when it’s actually not very important. Use it once in the first couple sentences, then forget about it.

Keyword In Subheading (H2) – you don’t need to use your keyword here – it looks spammy.

Internal / External Links – use a few links on your page. Google likes this and as long as you’re actually linking to helpful resources (I’m not talking about Wikipedia), then visitors will also find this helpful. Internal links are good because they keep people on your site and are a natural way to build links, but you will need a good amount of content for this. External links are good because they’re like citing sources for the article, which Google likes. Both are good.

Post Long Content – short, crappy content doesn’t rank. Long content that covers the topic extensively (especially content that includes a video or infographic), will. Google measures “average time on page” so your primary goal is to increase the “dwell time” of your visitor. Yoast recommends 300+ words, but try 3,000 words (or more) and you will see way better results.

WordPress Word Count

Social Media Optimization – assuming you configured the social tab in Yoast’s SEO settings, you can use the “share” link to upload custom graphics so your post image formats properly on Facebook and Twitter. This is a small ranking factor but it will also increase your social sharing which is excellent for SEO. And yes, this means you need to create 2 graphics…

  • Facebook Image: 1200 x 630px
  • Twitter Image: 1024 x 512px

Rich Snippets – these enhance your snippets with review stars, videos, and information about products, events, recipes, and other types of data. This isn’t part of Yoast but it obviously helps your SEO and click-through rates. I use the premium WP Rich Snippets plugin (here’s my review of it) which has way more options and looks better than free plugins like All In One Schema.org. If you would like to add rich snippets to your WordPress site, follow that tutorial.

rich-snippets

Image Speed Optimization – I have a full tutorial for image optimization. Run a page through GTmetrix to see all unoptimized images on the page. Large images need to be resized to fit the correct dimensions. If your content body is 680(w) you should be using images that are resized to 680(w). Use a plugin like Imagify for lossless compression. Images with the “specify image dimensions” error means you need to specify a width + height in the image’s HTML or CSS:

<img src=”/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Why-Is-WordPress-So-Slow.jpg” alt=”Why Is WordPress So Slow” width=”680” height=”380” />

Image Optimizations In GTmetrix

Targeting Multiple Keywords – I touched on this in the Yoast SEO Premium section, but here’s an example. You’ll want to craft your SEO title/meta description to include elements of both…

Primary Keyword: SEO-Friendly WordPress Themes
Secondary Keyword: SEO-Optimized WordPress Themes

Page Title / SEO Title: 25+ SEO-Friendly WordPress Themes For Everyone
Meta Description: Browse over 25+ SEO-Friendly WordPress Themes which have mobile responsive and HTML5 design, all of which are SEO optimized via the Genesis Framework.

Now sprinkle your secondary keyword (or a partial match of it) in your content. Your permalink should usually just include your primary keyword: /seo-friendly-wordpress-themes/. You do not need to purchase Yoast SEO Premium to target secondary keywords – just use tools like Google Autocomplete to find a secondary keyword, then sprinkle it.

 

11. Anatomy Of A Perfectly Optimized Page

I borrowed this from Backlinko which emphasizes why content optimization is more than “green lights.” It’s more about creating damn good content using infographics, videos, and creating “the ultimate guide” with a table of contents (like this post). Stop worrying so much about green lights, get off the “text and photos” route and start doing something different.

on-page-seo

I also created a version for WordPress (a little outdated but still good)…

WordPress-Content-Optimization

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚦 What are the 3 main steps to Yoast?

Configuring the settings, researching focus keywords, and content optimization are the 3 main steps to using Yoast's SEO plugin. Setting up Google Search Console is important too.

🚦 How do I choose focus keywords?

Google Autocomplete is a great tool for finding keywords, especially when using the fill-in-the-blank method from this guide. MozBar and Keywords Everywhere Chrome Extension helps you learn each keyword's competition - which is a critical part to keyword research.

🚦 How important are green lights?

They're not. The 5 most important places to use your keyword are in the page title, permalink, SEO title, meta description, and a couple times in the content body. Nearly all other ranking factors have nothing to do with Yoast, regardless of what other people say.

🚦 What other on-page SEO factors are there besides green lights?

FAQ rich snippets (like the ones you're reading now), adding an HTML table of contents to long posts, optimizing site speed, carefully crafting SEO titles + meta descriptions, and in-depth content are all major factors that can improve both rankings + click-through rates.

🚦 How did I get these emojis in search results?

They're called FAQ rich snippets and I have a tutorial for that. You simply install the Structured Content plugin and add FAQs (with the emoji of your choice) to pages/posts.

 

Whaddaya Think?

Hit me up in the comments if you have questions :)

See Also:
How I Got 100% Scores In GTmetrix

Cheers,
Tom

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Louisa Hermann

This helped me a lot during installing Yoast
Thanks for sharing great information like this :)

Omii

Your tutorial is really helpful for setting up Yoast SEO plugin perfectly, This plugin is really useful.

vex 3

Very helpful to share. You are a great author. I will definitely bookmark your blog and may come back someday Thanks for a great post. Please continue to uphold!

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Your theme name

Rahul Gupta

Hi Tom,

Nice article, I have ever read about Yoast SEO plugin for any WordPress site. You have worked superbly with this and gave total instructional exercise to new client about best SEO plugin which is perfect with practically all WordPress adaptation.

I would state, your article is basic however powerful. Thanks for sharing information about this plugin.

Varun Sharma

Thanks for sharing great tips and idea. You have done a great job. keep it up…!!

Hemant Bhagvat

The way you have explained all the features and settings is excellent. I am using this plugin from last 3 years and still, I got some new things to do. I believe Yoast is the best plugin in the market and this write-up is the ultimate guide for anyone who wants to explore this plugin.

Mudassar

About the AMP pages, I am still skeptical about the errors that might ruin the experience. I have heard that it requires a lot of effort to bring back the URL to the original if we leave the AMP. Is it right?

Sibz Sol

Thanks for sharing such a great blog!! This blog was really helpful, keep sharing such a great blog that would help everyone.

Evelyne

Hello Tom, just to add a précision, google displays the breadcrumbs under the post title and not the url of the post. I don’t know why.

Saif Ziya

I’m using Yoast. But, something is wrong, Tom Dupuis! My pagination is indexed on Google which, you know, should not. How can I fix that? The website page is Resultinfo.co.in/page/2

sportzcraazy

yoast plugin is really a good option for SEO.

Kayode Olamilekan

Good day, I don’t really drop comments on blog bcos I know a lot bloggers don’t reply.

Is it advisable to use %%excerpt%% in yoast post description ?

Heet Teja

Great guideline…Thank You for share valuable information and it’s very useful for me…After saw your article I can easily understand all Yoast SEO setting…Thank you again :)

Michael Roussin

Hi Tom,

I really appreciate your tutorials. I’m a beginner. Do you recommend Yoast Premium for a less than novice patron? I can see you have multiple tutorials about wp seo using yoast. It appears that you were using premium on the first one and suggest premium is not necessary on the latest lesson. Your insight I’m certain is valuable.

regards,

Mike

galih rezah

wow… u so kind sir… i hope u will get more money.. amin..

Rishi

Thank you for such a comprehensive SEO write-up using this popular plugin!

Wonder

Thanks for this amazing guide Tom.Quite straight forward.

Wiwin N.

Tom….I think this is the most completed tutorial for YOAST and SURE.. that need a lot of efforts you put here to get number 1 for this competitive keyword. May good bless you Tom…thank’s

Jordan

That was a brilliantly written article ! Some people think that they just have to install Yoast and they completely ignore the different custom settings that it has. Yoast plugin is like Dreamweaver for webmasters. A plugin capable of doing multiple things & still most of us only use 10% of it. very nice Thanks for your enlightening tutorial on how to go about using Yoast’s SEO.

Mathukutty P. V

Many changes required, many things to avoid in yoast. Thanks for the post.

Michael

Hi Tom — this is a really fantastic tutorial. Thank you so much for your time and effort. You have really helped me setup my first website. I have gone through every step of your tutorial three times, and I have applied most of your suggestions. The only items still yet to do are image optimization and my social media settings. Could you please give me your insight on this question. I have manually edited the snippets for each one of my pages, I’ve submitted an XML sitemap to Google, linked to Search Console, and I have asked Google to… Read more »

Pawan

Hi Tom, thanks for the complete Yoaet SEO guide. But, I got a issue with my website sitemap.
My website post sitemap has included both featured and post images. How can I remove featured images from sitemap?
Thank you

Charlie Randell

The great post me and my mentor swear by Yoast
training, in fact, when I first started out in SEO it’s what he chose to train me on and I learnt a great deal about SEO. I think the thing they helped me the most was the way it was broken down into small pieces which made it a lot easier to digest. as when you first get in to SEO all the information can be a bit daunting and overwhelming.

Niyamat

Is there any bad effect of click on allow tracking option when we install Yoast seo plugin?

jasmine dora

This blog is just outstanding. You shared the most important information that every SEO person must have. I have used Yoast SEO many times and I think this is the best plugin to optimize the website. You made it easy with sample pictures. Keep it up.

paul

thank you for your sharing great information to about WordPress SEO. its really nice post for us. good job.

Dion

Long but very complete and understandable yoast plugin. Valuable post! Thank you!

joya

Thanks for sharing, first time, i used the all in one seo plugin on my site,. it is not working properly. meta tag not showing on google, then i replaced the all in one with Yoast, it is working now.

Jogja

a very complete yoast tutorial. but in the latest version of yoast many settings are removed. thank you

shani

so nice, great man carry on

Victoria Joe

Thanks a lot Tom. I’ve been searching for a way to configure the plugin using those variables. I finally did it through the tutorial. Thanks a lot.

Mudassar

woww…extremely useful tutorial, even yoast didn’t explain the terms. Really helpful for me and God bless you and keep it up….

Priya Heisnam

Is the Yoast Search engine Preview not available for free User?

Dlinkers

Impressive post. Thank you so much for keeping this post evergreen. I appreciate your effort in updating this. Yoast plugin is really useful for my websites.

Dmitri

Thank you mate! Loved the part especially about redirects 301 as I have around 300 broken site links at the moment, so getting my SEO guys to fix, but good to know the way to fix it. Also found AMP helpful. Thanks!

Jennifer

Hi Tom,

I am taking a Pinterest course and in there they suggest that I turn ON the Advanced Settings pages in the Yoast SEO plugin. This is to enable title, meta, descriptions, social meta data, sitemaps & more options. Where do I do this on the newest version of the Yoast SEO plugin. I installed the FREE version. Do I need the premium version?

Thank you very much for your guidance.

Jenniferrachel

Nice One. Very useful information this will really help me. Thank for the Information

jay

Usually dont leave response to any blog . but this article is truley genius
Thanks a ton for putting such beautiful article

David

This is my favorite plugin. You have done a good job of explaining every part of it.
Please be noted that this plugin has been updated and there are a few changes to it. I am waiting to read the updated version of this guide.
Thank you and great work guys.

Hena

I love WordPress seo plugin by yoast!!

Narender Singh

I have certain confusion regarding “Show date in snippet preview”. Is it really what enables or disables the date in Google’s snippet as shown in search results? As per my understanding, it only enables or disables the date for the plugin’s snippet preview i.e. the one that you see on the preview section under the article. It is helpful in adding the correct length of meta description, since the date shown in Google will consume a few characters out of your specified description. Having it enabled or disabled should ideally have zero effect on how the result is shown in… Read more »

APK Mirror

Why I must “off” on Ryte integration ( In the Feature), will not my website disappear from search engine index?

Ana

I don’t usually comment any post. But this is an amazing work. I just couldn’t leave this page without telling you how great job you did. For sure I will check this tutorial several times again to fix everything on my page. thanks again..

Hello sir..
SEO Yoast Plugin is adorable one. I think all SEO people use this Plugin. Every time Yoast plugin updates new rules. Yoast 7.3 version is simply excellent. Now i am using this one.
Thanks for this

Akbar

Thanks for your tutorial, but why in my script source yoast meta keyword not invisible.
Whether this latest yoast plugin is no longer showing in specification for meta keywords

Hello sir..
SEO Yoast Plugin is adorable one. I think all SEO people use this Plugin. Every time Yoast plugin updates new rules. Yoast 7.3 version is simply excellent. Now i am using this one.

Thank you

Goooood stufff keep up!!!!

Rasedul Islam

Hello Sir,
I am facing Yoast SEO 7.2. Today I find out from Google and nice website.
I read your all article and I did work on my website. But now I have 1 question last 2 weeks didn’t work my Yoast SEO Tools & Not working on the Google search page.
Today I read your article and did it on my website same like you.

How much take time for Update and working on Google search page Sir?
Can you tell me, Sir?

Great tutorial. One interesting question is what would happen if you follow these strategies on a widgetized homepage AND use the visual editor at the same time. Would search engines would take all info from the widgets and not from the visual editor…? Or both?

Hey,First of all thanks sharing lots of information about yoast seo. Here very informative message on Focus keyword and long tail keywords.

Sasa

Hello,
very cool tutorial. I remember in earlier version Yoast gave us separately tab option for title & meta description for main or better say home page. In this new version that is missing….How can we change the most quickly this thing with title and meta description for the home page now?

Thank you for your explanation,
Sasa

Right now i still learning wordpress and interested with SEO. Thank you for this tutorial. I try to follow your step hope will go with good SEO.
Thank you, Sir.

Charlotte

Wow, thank you so much for all this information!
This has helped me tremendously

Best regards… all the way from Belgium!

I had the problem with the duplicated meta “descriptions” and “titles” even with implementing most of the changes here.
The specific pages are excluded from the sitemap+in the Yoast plugin and still, they appear in the SERP…
I’ve done all the changes from the post. We’ll see if everything is ok. I’ll update you with the result after a couple of days.

After Latest Yoast seo update Sitemap option is removed in to free version . now how to use and sitemap in wordpress admin ?

Valuable and best tutorial i found on google, thanks to you for this useful article. I cant tell how important this article for me, it helped me a lot to understand.

Hi Sir thanks for sharing such a useful information..!!! But i have installed recently Yoast Plugin and there are some different and extra Options like in Title & Metas last Option is ” Others ” i don’t know what to do with that Option can you please check new Plugin because it have more new updated Options.!!!! Your kind help will be appreciated..!!!!

With the newest version of Yoast SEO the /category/ base is automatically stripped out of the Category URL….what can we do if we want to restore it? I am trying to create custom category pages…and it’s going to cause permalink issues if I try to create a page with the same URL as a category. Basically if I have a category called “Steve”…I want to change the Steve Category URL back to domain.com/category/steve….and then build a category page at domain/steve…then redirect /category/steve to /steve. With the permalinks as they currently are I cannot do that.

Hey Tom

Thank You For Sharing This Useful Information About Yoast Seo

I Really Need It

Hi Tom,

Wanting to follow your directions for uploading your SEO settings into my WP site.

When I go to SEO → Tools → Import And Export → Import (as directed)– the import tab is missing, screen shot here: https://prnt.sc/ityge6

There are no remaining plug-in updates that need to be implemented at my website…

Thanks in advance!
Kevin

very nice article I will start to follow these methods from my new articles

Really useful tip for Newbie ,there is recently some changes in the SEO Yoast Plugins design, Please update the new images, thanks

Quoc

Hello
I have a very ridiculous problem. After updating Yoast 7.0.3, readability is no longer displayed.
I definitely opened up the analysis feature.
Can you help me?
Many thanks for the useful article

I think disable “Show Media in search results?” in Media tab

Reply to  Tom Dupuis

Hey Tom, I just installed a Yoast SEO WordPress plug-in along with the Yoast glue to connect Yoast SEO and Google amp plugin by WordPress and the plugins directory. I’m seeing a great Improvement in my SEO and writing content away to my heart’s content on the blog and the website. I used to get disappointed not long ago by seeing my Alexa traffic rank numbers going up, but everyday now, it’s dropping steadily. In the last 10 days, the site has dropped more than 15,000 points. I’m really glad you have your side up and discuss everything WordPress, YouTube,… Read more »

Reply to  Tom Dupuis

The Alexa traffic rank in the United States is supposed to go down if your content is gaining Traction in the search engines. Remember, the lower your United States traffic number is on Alexa, the better your ranking in all major search engines. So the goal is actually 2 get the number to drop every day so that you get closer to getting more traffic. Right now, your ranking very well in the mid 50,000 range in the US on Alexa which is excellent. I’m trying to get to where you are. :-)

GOOD ARTICLE

Dear Tom, thank you very much, nice
Why I must “off” on Ryte integration ( In the Feature), will not my website disappear from search engine index?

Thanks, From Rahim Tabet, Indonesia

Reply to  Tom Dupuis

Thank you very much, Brother

Its a shame that they have remove the no index subpages features. I would really like to see that feature again.

Yoast SEO just released a big update to their WordPress plugin!

Thanks tom… good article! if you don’t mine please advise what is right setting for yoast Version 7.0.1 (2018)?? and why i cant find sitemap anymore at yoast this version.

Thanks tom. from bali

Hi,

I’ve just updated Yoast SEO and the drowdown menu has been stripped, for example I cannot find the “XML Sitemaps” menu listed anymore. Cannot find it anywhere else, xml sitemap still works though but cannot configure it anymore.

Already looked into details of update 6.2 but nothing mentioned about this huge change. Also looked into premium, thought maybe the changed the businessmodel.

Still lost, what happened? Anybody else experience the same issues?

Nice article,
You’ll find under the general category-
Simply go to features, scroll down to XML Sitemaps and click the question mark, you’ll find there.

Nice,
This is very helpful post for me, i am able to configure yoast plugin after reading this post.
Thanks

What about their sitemap? Are they have poor sitemap like in many user review that I see?

Are they sitemap is poor for SEO? I see many complain review about their sitemap

hi, i have built the wesite, but after activating yoast seo pluggin, am unable to see option when i click on like dashboard, features etc.. nothing is working

under titles and metas i dont find OTHER tab,,, plz help me

Gary Wicks

Indexing Tags and Categories Are they both okay? Or just categories for indexing. I read so much on the internet and its all conflicting with different views. I use Yoast on 2 sites and all in one on 2 sites. Recently google console asked me to unblock the robots from no indexing the categories and tags pages. So I did. I am assuming that having a canonical url set will prevent any issues as will the fact I read that Google realizes now about tags and categories so there will be no duplicate penalties? Hard to say, I hope not.… Read more »

I am new to blogging and am currently trying to learn. I have many photos of my posts. I was told to make sure I used the keyword in each alt text. I have over 550 photos indexed, have I made a grave mistake? Also, I recently sent in my Sitemap to Google with the Yoast SEO. My question is, is that I had four sitemaps- post, page, categories, post_tags. I ended up sending in all 4 of them, after realizing you should not send in the post_tags map. What am I to do? WIll Google get back to me… Read more »

Sam

There seem to be many instances where the screenshot you’ve provided doesn’t match my screen (in terms of enabling certain options-they’re just not there in my plugin). I’ve installed/activated Yoast free plugin, which I thought this was a tutorial for, but it seems maybe this is for the Pro plugin and not the Free Yoast Plugin?
For ex: In the section #2, Titles and Metas, the “Enabled Analysis” is nowhere to be found in that General tab.
Please is there confusion that I need cleared up?
Thanks!

Lanez

i like everything about yoast except thier sitemap….. the team need to work on that..

Right now it looks like Drupal is the top blogging platform available right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

Thanks a lot, these setting help me alot and improve blog position in SE. previously i was using all in one seo, now yoast.

Regards
MJ

Thanks Sir for creating a wonderful article it is truly benefitted to each and every one. Please keep on nourishing with us superb article keep it up

Yoast SEO plugin is the best for WordPress platform.

Yoast is a powerful plugin if used correctly. This method is shown here with ease, good job.

I am facing issue in SEO Yoast. When I make it active all published posts gets vanished and when deactivate it then everything works fine. Can you tell me what’s the issue?

musicpleer

Thanks for sharing this helpful post. I really got a lot of guidance during installation of this amazing plugin. Good luck

This is really good step by step instructions! – I ended up paying for the premium version as well, but this guide saved me a lot of time, thanks!!!

AzkaWEB

Useful Information. Got a chance to learn some new things. Keep up the good work.

djpunjab

Great step by step guide and thank you especially for explaining the social graphic card feature.

Rewari

Thanks a lot, I was a bit confused with new update. Cheers!

The best guide I’ve ever read on this subject! Good job and thanks

Yoast Is one of the best tool that i know. Great Article on Yoast Plugin

Yoast SEO is a very helpful plugin.Thanks for sharing this now the setup is good.

Very informative and well explained article for wordpress yoast seo. i am using yoast seo plugins and it has awesome features and it is a user friendly and also setup is very easy.

Glad to reach out your post…! It’s very helpful for me to setup my WordPress website with SEO friendly. Thanks for sharing such a valuable information with all of us.

It is the best post on Yoast SEO plugin configuration that I refer during its correct installation on my blog. Thanks for this appreciable efforts put up in explaining step by step configuration wizard

I have a second question: when I click on the XML Sitemap button, it generates a 404 page error ?!

It’s a great article which I have never read it before. It helped me thoroughly to have this Yoast SEO Plugin configured correctly. Thanks

Thanks for sharing this helpful post. I really got a lot of guidance during installation of this amazing plugin. Good luck

Hi,
What an elaborate meticulous explanation. Awesome!

The Yoast plugin version 6.0 has fewer configuration options.

This parent sitemap.xml
and four out of the five subheadings are verified.
I am stuck with a problem
post-sitemap.xml is showing blank and shows error HTTP 500
The posts themselves are seen, but the sitemap of the posts are not.

I will appreciate if you can help me.
Thanks,