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How to Setup Your Yoast SEO Plugin (Free Version)
When I started blogging, one of the first plugins recommended to me was Yoast. I was told it was a great plugin and could point me in the right direction with SEO. I uploaded it and whenever I created a new post I would try and get all green lights but that was it.
Granted, it’s my own fault. The information I needed was out there but… there are two types of people in this world: those who read the directions and those who don’t. Guess which category I fall into.
Two years later I now know there is so much more to it than that. You’ll be relieved to know that none of the setup is difficult but you do need to configure it to avoid problems.
Setting Up Yoast
To get started, go to your WordPress Dashboard and scroll down to ‘SEO’ select ‘General’ then the features tab at the top. You want all the features listed to be ‘ON’. If those settings are off then Yoast isn’t working.
Now go to the next tab and select ‘Webmaster Tools.’ There are four search engines listed but the two you want to configure are Google and Bing. Click on the links below each and follow the directions to configure both Google and Bing.
'Search Appearance' Settings
The next section you want to configure is ‘Search Appearance’ which can is under SEO in the dashboard.
Select your title separator then for ‘SEO title’ make sure it says Site Title, Separator, Tagline. In Meta Description include a description about what your blog has to offer your readers.
The next tab over is ‘Content Types.’ These are different for each blog depending on the plugins you have but the ones that should be toggled to ON are posts, pages, and anything you sell. Anything you WANT in search engines- turn on. Things like Jetpack should be toggled to off because they can create duplicate content which Google doesn’t like.
The next tab is Media and you want that toggled to ‘YES’ so that if an image comes up in a search result readers are taken to your page and not just the image.
Next head over to the ‘Taxonomies’ tab. ‘YES’ should be selected for categories. The other selections should be toggled to ‘NO’ except the very last one.
Under Category URLs you want to leave it on ‘KEEP’. Do not turn this off. Once it’s off you can’t re-do it (unless you hire someone who REALLY knows tech) and it can create a bunch of 404 page errors.
Finally, tab over to ‘Archives’ and select ‘Disable.’ Archives can sometimes make it seem like you have duplicate content which, again, is a big no no in Google’s eyes.
Then tab over to ‘Breadcrumbs’ and disable it and you can leave the settings for RSS alone.
'Search Console' Settings
There isn’t anything to configure here. Just know that if Google finds any problems with your site, it will alert you here. The last settings tab is where you can re-authenticate Google if you ever need to.
Under ‘Social’ you want to list all of your social media URLs where you want to be found. You don’t have to worry about the tabs at the top but can fill in those metrics if you want.
A side note about Pinterest, if you’ve already verified your blog or website with Pinterest you won’t be able to verify it in Yoast and you don’t need to.
The only thing you should consider touching in here is ‘Import and Export.’ That allows you to download a Yoast file and upload it to a new website. That way you don’t have to go through everything again to set up Yoast on a new site.
The rest of it you should leave alone less you’re really good at tech.
The Most Important Setting for yoast Isn't in the Yoast SEO Settings...
This last part is in the WordPress Dashboard but NOT under SEO.
If you completed the ‘Yoast Setup Wizard’ before launching your blog you may have told set it to block search engines from indexing your blog.
If that’s the case, the place to turn that off is in the WordPress Dashboard under ‘Settings’ and then ‘Reading’. You will see a line right above the ‘Save’ button that says ‘Search Engine Visibility’. You want to UNCHECK ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’ then click ‘Save’ to allow search engines to find your blog or website.
Your Yoast SEO Settings are Done!
Once you’ve worked your way through the steps above, your Yoast SEO plugin should properly be configured.
If you need help getting your Yoast plugin setup, check out my video tutorials site. You can find the Yoast video tutorial in the ‘Plugins Workshop’ and much more!
Until next time, my friends, Happy Blogging!
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