How to Fine Tune the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

Once you have the Yoast SEO plugin installed, it’s time to turn the dials to make sure you’re getting the most from it. In this video I’ll show you how to optimize your homepage, noindex/nofollow category pages, and how to set up an XML sitemap within the plugin.

Video Transcript

Hey, what’s up everybody? In this video, I’m going to teach you how to use some of the most important features within the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin.

The first page you want to know is the dashboard. The only thing you have to really pay attention to in the dashboard is this area here, default settings. If you ever make a mistake and your site gets messed up, you can just head back to the dashboard, click on the “Restore Default Settings” button, and everything will go back to like it was when you first installed the plugin. Let’s go down the list and go to all the important categories within Yoast, and I’ll teach you how to use each one.

The first one I’ll talk about is the titles and meta area. Within this particular part, under “General,” you usually don’t want to click anything. By default, everything is unchecked. I would leave it like that. You do, however, want to pay attention to where it says “Home.” This is very important, because this is your home page’s SEO settings. That’s really important, because generally, people are trying to rank their home pages highly in Google and other search engines.

When you click on the home tab, you’ll see two different options, depending on how your WordPress site is set up. This is the option you’ll see if you have a static home page. Let me show you what I mean. NeilPatel.com has a static home page. This is his home page, no matter what day you see it or whether he adds something new to the site. When that happens, you’ll see this option, because what Neil has done is he’s set one of the pages on his WordPress site as the home page. So, in order to change the title tag in meta information on this page he edits the page like he would any other page or post in WordPress.

But, if you have a dynamic page like this, so if your home page is a blog feed where every time you post something new it changes, you will need to adjust your SEO within the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin. When you do that, you have that set up, you’ll see something like this. Under “Home Page,” it’ll have a title template and a meta description. I do not recommend keeping this template here for your home page, because your home page SEO is so important, and it’s also important for branding purposes. What I would do is put a target keyword and your site name here, and a target keyword and your site name here, and you’re good.

Next, we’ll look at post types. In general, they set a title template. So, if you don’t want to bother making a unique meta title tag every time you publish a post you can keep this title template and this will make it automatically, and the same thing for pages. I don’t like to do that. If you do want to use a template, I wouldn’t use the one they have here. Why? Because it includes the title, the page, and the site name. That can make your title type really long depending on what your site name is.

What I like to do, if you do want to use a setting, is delete everything except the two little percentage signs and the title. What that does, every time you post something it makes the title just the title of your post and doesn’t add any other stuff which can make your title type too long for search engines to read.

Next, we’ll go over taxonomies. This is another important part of the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin, because by default, most WordPress themes create category pages.

Let me show you what I mean. When you’re adding a new post to WordPress, you’ll probably notice that there’s this area categories, and a lot of people choose categories or create categories for different posts on their website, which is totally fine. The problem with that is oftentimes WordPress creates these category pages.

I’m looking at the category page at “Distilled” for SEO. You can see there are a lot of posts here. These are generally thin pages with not much content, and it’s duplicate content, because this content also appears on the post itself. So, in general you want to no-index these pages to make sure search engines don’t see them. The page can be here for users to find, but you don’t want search engines to see them.

The setting you want to set within Yoast is to click under “Meta Robots,” “No Index, No Follow,” and you want to do the same thing for tags, “No Index, No Follow.” Click on “Save Settings.” That will make sure that the category pages that are created within WordPress aren’t indexed.

Let’s move down to XML site maps. In general, you don’t want to change the settings of these, because this is a site map for search engines to find all of the pages on your site. The only reason this is important is if you have another site map plugin installed in your site and you don’t want to use the Yoast plugin because that would create two site maps on your site, which is not the end of the world, but it’s not the best from an SEO perspective. So, if you didn’t want to use the Yoast site map for some reason, you could uncheck this, save settings, and you wouldn’t have a site map there.

Next, we have the permalinks settings. In general, like on the dashboard, I don’t recommend checking any of these boxes. Just leave them as they are, because generally, for SEO and for user experience purposes, your permanlinks should be as we described in the video about on-page SEO.

Next is the internal links page. I’m not going to get into this, because it takes a long time and is very complicated, and you’ll actually need a coder to set this up. But, this is if you want to enable breadcrumbs, breadcrumbs are basically a navigational setting that you can set up on your site which may be more SEO and user friendly, depending on your perspective.

Let me show you an example. Over at Yoast, he has what’s known as “breadcrumbs navigation.” All that is is like a series of categories that shows you where you are on the site at all times. For example, you have the home page at Yoast, you have the category “WordPress Plugins,” and within that category, you’re on the Yoast breadcrumbs area.

Some people think this is more search engine friendly because it helps Google understand what your pages are about thematically, and also within Google results, they display breadcrumbs navigation. Like at WordPress, we have WordPress support and then plugins and hacks and this page here. On occasion, that might be better for SEO, depending on your perspective.

That’s all you really have to know within the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin.