Before you can make the most of this free plugin, you need to install the Yoast SEO plugin + activate it on your WordPress site. If it’s listed in your active plugins, skip to the essential settings which is one paragraph away. If you don’t have it installed, let’s spend 5 minutes fixing that.
Pop over to Plugins > Add New in your dashboard. Search Yoast SEO + click the Install Now button. After it finishes installing, you’ll be able to click the Activate button to complete this task. That’s it, pretty much a handful of button clicks.
Installed Yoast SEO Plugin Settings
Once you add the plugin (or update it if it was already installed), SEO will be listed in your lefthand menu -> head there. When the plugin is fresh on your site, click the Start SEO data optimization button to give Yoast SEO a headstart on helping you out.
The creators of this plugin are always adding new features, so know that things may change with time. But for now, these are the settings I recommend under the General > Features tab.
Toggle everything “ON” except….
- Admin bar menu
(unless you don’t use the lefthand menu in WP)
- Usage tracking
- Enhanced Slack sharing
(unless your content is shared on Slack daily)
…and Save Changes.
Next up is Search Appearance
Don’t worry about the number of tabs available, this is an important but quick piece of the puzzle. After each tab, save your changes before the next!
- Under General, jump to the Knowledge Graph section + fill it out completely with your business name + logo or author bio.
- Under Content Types, toggle YES + SHOW for each content type that you want users to discover. For many this will be Posts + Pages only, but some will have items like Portfolio or Podcast.
- Under Taxonomies, toggle NO for any types you don’t use. For example, I don’t use tags or formats, so those are turned off.
- Treat Archives the same way you treated Taxonomies -> toggle any you don’t use to NO.
- If you enable Breadcrumbs, you can use the Gutenberg block this plugin provides to add breadcrumbs to your content.
- The default RSS settings are usually sufficient. Add your own brand flair in the wording if you have a few spare minutes.
Are you wondering why I completely skipped over the SEO title + Meta description areas in numerous places? That’s because I would rather have you set those for each unique piece of content. Setting a default doesn’t encourage us as WordPress site owners to make improvements. That’s something you’ll want to do over the next few weeks! If you need guidance on what to do, I have a free Yoast SEO ecourse that will help.
Let’s get Social…
The Accounts tab is easy. Simply paste in the URLs for accounts you actively own/use. The Facebook tab allows you to set a featured image + description for your homepage and a default one for the other content on your site.
I highly recommend filling this out. Why? Because not all of your content has a featured image + shares with images get more attention. Similarly you can set up Twitter cards + confirm your site on Pinterest with the last two tabs, if you’d like.
Did you skim this post + feel your brain melt?
I know that installing the Yoast SEO plugin feels easy enough until we start working through settings. It’s ok to be overwhelmed by this stuff! Do 2 things for your own benefit…
- Set up a default image for Facebook by going to Social > Facebook
- Make sure “Show SEO settings for…” is set to YES for the content you share publicly and set to NO for any private / hidden content.
That’s it! I know there are more tabs, but they aren’t essential to using this plugin. Honestly, the first step of installing the Yoast SEO plugin will improve your site’s SEO overall. Not only does it guide you on making each page + post better, it will help improve how your site appears in search results.
Want to do more than just install the Yoast SEO plugin?
If you’re looking to do more with your site’s SEO performance, sign up for this free Yoast SEO ecourse. I will walk you through how to make the most out of this plugin to get your site content higher + higher in search results.