Onsite SEO is the key and foundation to online success. It doesn’t matter how many quality inbound links you have if your website isn’t correctly structured and optimised for your targeted keywords then all your offsite efforts will be wasted. A great tool we use is the Yoast SEO Plugin.
Its not just about having the ‘green lights’ pop up on every web page (to be honest, this bit is irrelevant to me), its all the additional functionality that comes with Yoast that many people are unaware of or not utilising correctly. WordPress websites kick out a lot of unwanted data and pages that you do not want Google indexing as this will lead to index bloat and other ranking issues. Yoast helps with this.
Below you will find the optimal SEO settings achieved with Yoast to give your search engine rankings a quick boost.
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What Does Yoast SEO Offer?
Yoast and onsite SEO isn’t about getting those green lights to display. In my opinion, they are only very, very rough guides. All these lights tell you is if your targeted keyword is repeated in the right places multiple times, but when you come to optimise your pages correctly you never repeat the same word over and over again. What you should be focusing on is using variants of this keyword throughout your page, so thats the first point, do not focus on the green lights.
Yoast is much more than these green lights! When you build a WordPress website you are probably unaware of index bloat. This is where your WordPress site kicks out page & blog archives, filter pages, author pages, category pages, tag pages and tons of other irrelevant material that causes ranking problems. These pages lead to duplicate content indexed in Google and dilutes your overall quality of content.
This is what you should be using Yoast for along with a few other great features to help boost Google rankings.
If you apply the below settings to each section you will see an increase in search engine rankings.
If you login to your WordPress dashboard and click SEO > DASHBOARD on the left hand menu. On every single tab within Yoast you will have a ‘Help Centre’ that explains what each section is about with a great video.
From your dashboard you can see any major problems your site may have. If a problem does arise, it will be listed here and the required steps to take to fix the problem.
If you move over to SEO > DASHBOARD > GENERAL – You will see a Configuration Wizard. This will partially setup your Yoast plugin, but I always choose to manually update the settings.
SEO > DASHBOARD > FEATURES – This section allows you to access the full features of Yoast. Make sure they are all enabled.
SEO > DASHBOARD > COMPANY INFO – This is important for branding and local SEO. Make sure your company info is filled out and an image is uploaded.
SEO > DASHBOARD > WEBMASTER TOOLS – Add your verification codes in these sections. This will connect Yoast to your Webmaster Tools to supply you with important site issues.
SEO > DASHBOARD > SECURITY – Another advanced feature that needs to be enabled to access it.
Title & Metas
Now if we go to SEO > TITLES & METAS this is the main function i believe Yoast is important for. Here we can start blocking spiders from indexing unwanted/irrelevant web pages.
SEO > TITLES & METAS > GENERAL – Ensure the below settings are applied.
SEO > TITLES & METAS > HOMEPAGE – Nothing to see in this section!
SEO > TITLES & METAS > POST TYPES – In this section we can start adding date snippet previews on our pages that will display on Google search results. We do not want to apply the date snippets to our main landing pages as this will shorten our meta description that will contain valuable content for the user. I suggest only apply date snippets to blog posts.
It is important you have the settings as below under the media section. This will stop the conversion of your images being made into actual web pages. This can be a huge problem with WordPress websites.
Apply all settings as below. You may see more options on this page depending on your theme.
SEO > TITLES & METAS > TAXONOMIES – This is the main section within Yoast and will solve a lot of your ranking problems. Here we can fix duplicated content by making all our archive and category pages noindex. Please take a read on the next step to fix Google index bloat as it comes in 2 parts.
SEO > TITLES & METAS > ARCHIVES – Some more settings to help with index bloat.
SEO > TITLES & METAS > OTHER – Helps strip irrelevant/dead code from your site.
SEO > SOCIAL -Here we can start connecting your social media accounts to your WordPress website that will help with branding.
SEO > SOCIAL > ACCOUNTS – Copy and paste your social media links and twitter handle in this section.
SEO > SOCIAL > FACEBOOK – Upload your image and link the admin of your Facebook Business Page here. Allows you to retrieve more data about Facebook traffic.
SEO > SOCIAL > TWITTER – Apply the below settings. If your Twitter account is new or inactive it can take a while for them to display large images on your feed.
SEO > SOCIAL > PINTEREST – Follow the below steps on this section.
SEO > SOCIAL > GOOGLE+ – Simply add your Google + URL.
SEO > XML SITEMAPS – With Yoast you get a free sitemap generator that automatically updates when you add a new page or image. Yoast sitemaps contain a lot more data than other sitemap generators i have used. You will need to delete any existing sitemaps you currently have uploaded on your server before starting the below steps.
SEO > XML SITEMAPS > GENERAL – I always keep the max entries to 500 to make things run better. If you click on the ‘XML SITEMAP’ button you can copy and paste each URL listed into your Google Webmasters Tools.
SEO > XML SITEMAPS > USER SITEMAP – Make sure this is disabled.
SEO > XML SITEMAPS > POST TYPES – Here we can decide what we want to include in our sitemap. All of these settings can be added. We have chosen not to add MEDIA and TEAM MEMBERS.
SEO > XML SITEMAPS > EXCLUDED POSTS – Add post IDs here to not include in your sitemaps.
SEO > XML SITEMAPS > TAXONOMIES – We do not want any of these in our sitemap. Check ‘not in sitemap’ for all options.
SEO > ADVANCED – I’m not sure why this section is called advanced as most of it is already preset. Double check the settings apply as below.
SEO > ADVANCED > BREADCRUMBS
SEO > ADVANCED > PERMALINKS
SEO > ADVANCED > RSS
SEO > TOOLS – Here you can make changes to all your pages meta title and description settings without clicking edit on each page. You can also create backups of these settings which should be done regularly.
Import and Export
SEO > SEARCH CONSOLE – Connect your Google Webmasters Tools to Yoast to view any problems.
Page / Post SEO Settings
Now i will go into the Yoast settings when you edit a web page. This should only be used for your meta titles, meta descriptions and social media text & images. Please try not to pay too much attention to the green light!
Click the ‘Edit Snippet’ button and add your meta title and description. There is a green bar that tells you how much space you have remaining. Never go all the way to the end as Google will start cutting your text off. Aim to only go 80% of the way to ensure Google contains your meta info. Here is a link on how to write great meta tags.
When yourself, or someone else shares your links on Facebook and Twitter you can assign the title, description and image here. This should be completed on all web pages.
Its not really advised to add nofollow tags to content pages but this can be done here if required to. This is mainly used for adding content to your site so users can read it using a Canonical redirect.