The Noob’s Guide to WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast

by Dan Kern on August 2, 2012

Guide to Yoast WordPress SEO PluginBy now you’re aware of the sheer awesomeness of the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin. With the release of 1.2.5, there are some differences from previous versions…and this guide will help you understand how to take full advantage of the plugin’s capabilities. We’re excited to help you fully unleash the power of the best WordPress SEO plugin on the planet. Yep, it’s that good. Let’s get started.

How to Set Up The Yoast WordPress SEO v1.2.5 Plugin

Dashboard

This is first page to start with after installing the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. Unless you have very knowledgeable editors on the topic of search engine optimization, you should keep the “Disable the Advanced…” check box checked. Why? This will allow editors to be able to redirect posts, set them to “noindex,” etc. Very dangerous stuff for an uninformed editorial experimentalist.

The other thing to consider on this page is setting your site up in Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, and Alexa. There is incredible data there to help you further optimize your website. Set it up. Copy and paste your verification codes and ID’s here as show below.

General Settings | Guide to Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

Titles & Meta

1. General

Click every check box unless the “Use meta keywords tag” section if you don’t want you’re targeted keywords to appear in the source code. Search engines don’t use them, but they help you keep track of the keywords you are targeting per page. Some SEO professionals prefer to hide such information from their competitors, although we tend to think that’s really not worth fretting over. It can be a waste of time if you don’t feel you need to keep track of your keywords, however.

We like to use “Force Rewrite Titles” Since the Home page acts funny some times. Noindexing subpages of archives will help ensure that the deeper paginated pages of your main blog page, category and other archive pages aren’t index (which will create duplicate meta tags, annoy the heck out of you in Webmaster Tools, and put you in danger of Google Panda penalties). The “noodp” and “noydir” settings prevent DMOZ and Yahoo! Directory descriptions from being used for your site in SERPs (might as well ensure that your customized descriptions are used instead). Oh, and just click every check box under the “Clean up the <head>” section at bottom. WordPress is adding more bloat to the <head> section these days, and we want to make the search bots happy :)

General Titles & Meta (Guide to WordPress SEO by Yoast 1.2.5)

 

2. Home

This section is for your homepage. Fill out Title Template as instructed below, entering a short yet compelling and keyword-rich phrase that summarizes your home page + add the %%sitename%% shortcode to automatically populate your website’s name. We like to use the | symbol to separate the two sections. Be sure to keep the entire meta title under 70 characters,, otherwise it will get cut off in the Google search results.

Fill out the Meta Description Template section with a keyword-rich, compelling sales pitch for your homepage. Limit it to 140-150 characters, otherwise it too will be cut off in the Google search results. You can use the Author highlighting section to aid in connecting your blog with your Google+ profile, which can result in your pretty little face showing up next to your blog posts in Google’s search results.

Home Meta Data (Guide to Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin)

3. Post Types

This section is pretty easy. You can mostly keep everything the same, but simply check the check boxes to “noindex” and “Hide WordPress SEO” on media pages (i.e. – image attachment pages) which really just create duplicate content bloat for your website…which can lead to Google Panda penalties. You don’t want search engines indexing these pages. The default meta title settings for Posts & Pages are good since they will put your title first, then page number (if it’s paginated), and then your site name at the end with the | symbol just before it. Keeping it classy…San Diego.

*Note: If you are using the shortcode to paginate a post, the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin will not add the page # into your meta title if you have customized the meta title. So, leave it blank for paginated Posts and the Post title will simply be used as the meta title. -updated 4/16/2013

Post Types (Meta & Titles) | Guide to Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

4. Taxonomies

Here’s where we need to roll up our sleeves. Your Category pages are important, but they are duplicate content…so they are no different than Tag pages in all reality. However, you link to these pages from your navigation menus (giving them page rank), so give them well-optimized, unique content. Write 100+ word unique descriptions for each of your category pages (enter via Posts > Categories in WordPress). Use keywords and customize the meta data for your category pages.

Set “Post Tags” and “Format” to “noindex,” and hide the WordPress SEO Meta Box on these pages (you don’t need it), since you don’t want search engines to index these. They are just more duplicate content bloat that can get you into trouble in a post-Panda world.

Tip: Remove “Archives” from meta title template for Categories & Tags. It just makes you look outdated.

Taxonomies | Guide to Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

5. Other

If you’re running a one-author blog or website, then just set both “Author Archives” and “Date Archives” to be “noindex,follow” and disable these features. They are just going to get you into more duplicate content trouble with search engines and aren’t really necessary. Also, isn’t it nice to see that search result pages and 404 “not found” error pages are also set to “noindex” for you? Thanks Joost de Valk!

Other: Author & Date Archives (Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin)

Social (OpenGraph)

This section allows you to add Facebook & Twitter OpenGraph Meta Data to your site…which helps protect your social media branding! Yaya! No longer will Facebook thumbnails, incorrect titles or descriptions show while sharing your posts on Facebook & Twitter. So, add yourself as a Facebook Admin, add your logo URL, site description, default image URL, click the check box to add your Twitter meta card data and add your Twitter username. This also helps search engines associate your site with your social media accounts…and remember, social signals are HUGE these days.

Social: Facebook & Twitter OpenGraph (Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin Guide)

 

XML Sitemaps

While we tend to like the Google XML Sitemaps plugin a little better (more control), it’s certainly nice to use less plugins. And, this sitemap functionality at least has the essentials (ability to exclude parts of your website that can be seen as duplicate content). When it comes down to it, you really only want to be asking Google to index your home page, posts, pages, and category pages (which you wrote unique descriptions for…right?). So, check every check box except for Posts, Pages, and Categories. Then, click the “XML Sitemap” button, copy the URL and submit it in Webmaster Tools for your site. Help Google (and Bing) help you.

XML Sitemaps | Noob's Guide to Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

Permalinks

Stop right there. This section is no about cute search engine friendly URLs for your WordPress site. Instead, this section tells search engines how to handle your permalinks. Simply check every check box except for two: “Redirect attachment URLs” (since we’ve already set them to noindex) and “Prevent cleaning out Google Site Search URLs” (since you are probably using WordPress’s built in search functionality). However, if you don’t like “image attachment” pages…you can click the check box to redirect them back to the parent page that they are hosted on. That’s fine.

Tip #1: If you are using the “WP No Category Base” plugin to remove /category/ from Category page URLs, then you’ll want to deactivate that plugin. It’s no longer needed!

Tip #2: If you are doing eCommerce on a WordPress site (shame on you, it’s not secure!), then you might want to clarify that the “http” version of your canonical URLs should be used since your site will most likely have both http and https versions of your URLs.

Caution: We have noticed problems with the “Strip the /category/ base” feature on sites with the WP-Clear theme. Each day, it seems the setting breaks and this setting must be toggled (checked or unchecked) in order for it to work again. It could end up working even when set to the “off” position. Currently under investigation.

Permalinks & Canonical URLs: Guide to WordPress SEO by Yoast

Internal Links (Breadcrumbs)

This section is for navigational breadcrumbs, which are good for SEO since they help ensure that you show both users (and search engines) links to your other pages within each section. This section takes a little more knowledge, although you can do it. We recommend reading this page on the Yoast website for more information. Joost already covered it nicely.

Breadcrumbs | Guide to Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

RSS

This section is simply awesome. Protect yourself from evil scraper sites by ensuring that you have links to the original posts/pages on your site (plus a link to your home page) from within your RSS feed. Help fight the good fight against duplicate content and keep this page as is.

RSS | Guide to WordPress SEO (Yoast Plugin)

Import & Export

If you’re already using the All-in-One SEO Pack or HeadSpace2 plugins, this section will help you quickly and easily migrate to WordPress SEO by Yoast. Simply check the check boxes to import from either plugin, and also the check box to delete the old data, click Import and then go deactivate the older plugin. Bam!

Tip: If you’re a Platinum SEO Pack user, you’ll need to use the SEO Data Transporter plugin, and then follow these instructions.

Import, Export, Migrate to the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

Well, that’s it! Hopefully this helps you get started with using this top notch WordPress SEO plugin. If you have any tips of your own, leave ‘em in the comments.

Leave a Comment

{ 89 comments… read them below or add one }

joane September 9, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Simple question needs simple answer.
Wordpress profile page has added field at the bottom for SEO settings.

field #1. Title to use for Author page
What is the Author page? Is there a visible profile page on my blog?
Is this title supposed to describe my profile page?

field #2. Meta description to use for Author page.
Again, am I describing the profile page?
Should this be a readable sentence more descriptive than the Title?

field #3. Meta keywords to use for Author page.
keywords for my profile? can this be correct.

I have googled and youtubed for hours, can’t find a thing. Please help. Thanks.

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Dan Kern Dan Kern September 26, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Hi Joane, the new meta data settings in profile page are to help you optimize your “Author” pages should you choose to allow them to be indexed by Google in the Yoast Wordpress SEO settings. Here is an example of my author page, although I am not using Yoast on this site.

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Sam October 11, 2012 at 11:32 am

Thanks Dan,
Exactly what I was looking for. Step by step, clear and concise. Great help.

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Dan Kern Dan Kern December 5, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Glad it helped, Sam!

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Nadene October 26, 2012 at 7:10 am

Hi,

I am having some trouble with the home page. My home page looks like this:

Homepage & Front page
You can determine the title and description for the front page by editing the front page itself »

You can determine the title and description for the blog page by editing the blog page itself »

Author metadata
Author highlighting:Don’t showadmin
Choose the user that should be used for the rel=”author” on the blog homepage. Make sure the user has filled out his/her Google+ profile link on their profile page.
Google Publisher Page:

If you have a Google+ page for your business, add that URL here and link it on your Google+ page’s about page.

I am not real sure what to do here because I can’t find anywhere to add keywords. Can you help please.

Nadene

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Dan Kern Dan Kern December 5, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Click on the link in this sentence: You can determine the title and description for the front page by editing the front page itself »

That will allow you to add keywords to the meta data for your home page.

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Balaz Sabo Sipos November 7, 2012 at 1:04 am

Hello Dan,

This plugin is really nice, and you did good job on Explaining How to Setup it Right.
In 3. Post Types, if i setup That No Follow/index, on Media pages, it will Not Follow/Index all pages where i have Media, or just Those Media Files? is not that 1 more way to we be found?
Just that is little confusing…
Im Beginner in This so i hope you understand…

Thanks for all and keep up the Great Work.

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Dan Kern Dan Kern December 5, 2012 at 8:58 pm

It will set all image attachment pages, which are really unnecessary pages that Wordpress builds on your site with the image on it (“attachment” is in the URL), to “noindex,follow” so that Google’s index of your site doesn’t get cluttered with worthless pages that can drive your site quality/engagement down and get you dinged by Panda updates.

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fiona November 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Hi Dan

Thanks for your easy to follow instructions. I’m just having one issue with the XML sitemap generator. /category-sitemap.xml is giving me the following error in google webmaster tools: “Your Sitemap appears to be an HTML page. Please use a supported sitemap format instead.”

when you actually click on the /category-sitemap.xml link it takes you to a error page.

Any suggestions what can fix this?

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Dan Kern Dan Kern December 5, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Hi Fiona, I personally don’t use the sitemap functionality of the Yoast plugin since I like how the Google XML Sitemaps plugin gives me more control. So, you could try that instead. Regarding the Yoast category sitemap XML page…I know it’s working fine on his site: http://yoast.com/category-sitemap.xml.

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Columbus Ohio Bookkeepers December 7, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Extremely helpful! After struggle with titles and meta date your post accomplished everything I needed.

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Prince December 12, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Seo by Yoast is one of the best seo plugin for Wordpress, I just started using it like a month ago and can see a real good change in my traffic and ranking in SERP. In every post it help to get a good titles, Meta description according to the keyword that we suggest, it also works on rich snippet and all that. Thanks for the full detail.

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Dan Kern Dan Kern December 31, 2012 at 8:16 am

I agree, Prince. For Wordpress sites that use a theme without SEO features, Yoast is the way to go.

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Josh December 13, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Hi Dan! Really appreciate the tutorial. Quick question. Is it worth it to add something in the “Anchor text for the Homepage” area under Breadcrumbs to help SEO. If so, what would you suggest?

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Dan Kern Dan Kern December 31, 2012 at 8:14 am

Most would just put “Home,” But if your website is “Widget Depot,” and “widgets” is your keyword, then you could consider making “Widget Depot” (your business name) the anchor text for a little extra optimization…although not going to make or break the optimization of your site.

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adam December 31, 2012 at 7:59 am

I am confused about noindexing media. Pictures are an important part of my site. I want them to show up in google searches so should I still noindex them?

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Dan Kern Dan Kern December 31, 2012 at 8:09 am

It sets the image attachment page (a page with the image and no other content) to “noindex,follow,” …not the actual image file.

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adam December 31, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Thanks for the quick response. I had made a huge mistake by masking instead of using a 301 redirect and am now trying to put back the pieces. I am trying to make sure it all works correctly. Your help is appreciated.

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Dan Kern Dan Kern December 31, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Ah…so if you masked instead of 301 redirect, then you had two completely duplicate sites with different URLs. You probably got hit with a Google Panda penalty?

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adam January 3, 2013 at 11:37 am

Dan, can I get an opinion on whether I should noindex and/or nofollow a page. The page list all of the companies we have done product reviews for. I using a tag plugin for that page. Part of me thinks it is good SEO but I am worried it is duplicate or weak content. The page will eventually have several hundred links.

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Dan Kern Dan Kern January 3, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Hard to say without seeing the page…but if you add a line or two of unique content under each company name/link, and watch the engagement stats in Google Analytics to ensure it doesn’t have a super high bounce rate/low Time on Site…then it should be okay to keep it indexed. Just ask yourself, “What is the value to someone who finds this page?” Focus on making it valuable.

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adam January 4, 2013 at 10:00 am

This is the pagehttp://threeguysgolfblog.com/product-reviews-by-company/

I think it has great relevance to readers but I don’t want to be dinged by google for a page of links and no real content.

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Duke Tanson January 2, 2013 at 10:07 am

Great post Dan. I’m a huge fan of Yoast plugin and I think anyone running a website on wordpress and not using this plugin is missing out greatly. The twitter cards bit is quite cool and I suggest website owners should use it by applying here https://dev.twitter.com/form/participate-twitter-cards.

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fat internet guy January 11, 2013 at 12:12 am

When I activate this plugin, the lightboxes (like for inserting an image, link, etc) stop working. Why does this happen and what should I do?

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Dan Kern Dan Kern January 11, 2013 at 8:26 am

That is odd. Never heard of that. I would suggest deactivating, deleting and seeing if the lightboxes fix…if so, then try re-installing the Yoast Wordpress SEO plugin.

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fat internet guy January 13, 2013 at 9:06 pm

When I deactivate, even without deleting/uninstalling, the lightboxes work. I have read somewhere that this plugin can have issues when used in combination with other plugins, so i tried turning everything off but Wordpress SEO..no luck. I also tried uninstalling and reinstalling and it still doesn’t work. :(

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Bibin varghese January 19, 2013 at 10:44 am

I just installed latest yoast seo plug-in Version and I can’t find the robots.txt editor in the File menu. I only have the .htaccess file editor.
My robot.txt only showing
User-agent: *
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /wp-includes/
When i check http://www.mywebsite.com/robot.txt
What to do????plz help me

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Dan Kern Dan Kern January 21, 2013 at 8:24 am

I suspect that your robots.txt file is not set to CHMOD 777 or similar (which makes it write-able) on your server. Email your hosting company’s support team to have them address for you if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself.

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kat January 31, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Soooooo helpful. This walked me through everything I needed painlessly. Thank you!

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Chris February 1, 2013 at 4:45 am

Just wanted to say that this is a great write up. This plug-in can be very intimidating at first, but if people go through this step by step, it is well worth the effort.

Thanks!

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Scot February 6, 2013 at 12:22 am

Ha ha, ok, you can delete these posts- I figured it out. The SEO Data Transport plugin does the hard work for me. I do think it should be in big red words though, would have saved me an hour.

Regardless of all that, great article, thanks for posting!

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Dan Kern Dan Kern February 7, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Glad you got it figured out! Yeah, SEO Data Transporter is a really handy plugin to complete the puzzle for some people’s migrations to the Yoast Wordpress SEO plugin.

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Barry Spiers February 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Nice write up, thanks. Do you a similar guide to setting up the SEO on each page?
Thanks
Barry

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Dan Kern Dan Kern February 7, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I have not yet, but I should! That’s where tall the magic happens with the Wordpress SEO plugin by Yoast :)

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Anne February 9, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Thank you so much, this was very useful!
Only Facebook OpenGraph won’t let me add an admin and I have no clue why, could it be because I installed the Facebook plugin?
At least everything else is all set up, which is a huge step forward!

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Dan Kern Dan Kern February 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Not sure about OpenGraph but glad Yoast is set up now!

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Ashish Patel February 14, 2013 at 8:55 am

Hello Dan Kern,

I read your post about “The Noob’s Guide to WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast”. It is very well written and in very easy language to understand. Your information about redirection of Attachment url to parent post url is perfect.

I also follow this step and it works well. But my issue is little bit different.
My permalink structure was /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/ before 21st January, 2013. I redirected Attachment url to parent post url through Yoast’s seo plugin and it works.
But after 21st January, 2013, I change my permalink structure. /%category%/%postname%/%post_id%/
and I redirect my old permalink structure to new permalink structure. (with Simple 301 Redirects plugin)

I uncheck Attachment url to parent post url in Yoast’s seo plugin and then once again check the box of Attachment url to parent post url. So that refresh Yoast’s seo plugin and it works normally. But it works only with new permalink structure (/%category%/%postname%/%post_id%/), not working with the old permalink structure(/%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/). My lots of traffic from Images. And therefore it is result in so many 404 errors. (Not Found)

Attachment url to parent post url is working only for those post which I published after 21st January, 2013. Before this date I published almost 594 post and for all those post, Attachment url to parent post url doesn’t work. One solution is there with Simple 301 Redirects and it is that I have to redirect my each image of those 594 posts to their parent post url. You can understand, I have to redirect almost 3000 + images one by one.

I have trying lot to find out solution since last 20 days. But I have no solution. So kindly request you, Please suggest me how to get rid of this issue. I hope, I will get positive response.
Ashish Patel

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Dan Kern Dan Kern February 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I was going to suggest trying using wildcards (*) to at least replace /month/ in the image URLs to help consolidate the redirects, but the Simple 301 Redirect Tool won’t help. Hmm…I’m not sure honestly…this is a new one.

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Cristobal February 14, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Thanks, it was very useful. Hope it works.

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Remote PC Support February 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Great post…..i recently reset my yoast settings and forgot to stop archiving tag and author pages and google has nailed our site for serious duplicate content. We had it enabled when we first installed yoast months ago but let this be a lesson to all. duplicate content penalties are a nightmare!

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Dan Kern Dan Kern February 19, 2013 at 12:43 pm

I’ve been there. It sucks.

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Jason May February 17, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Hi Dan,

I recently moved from All in One SEO to WordPress SEO and have seen immediate dividends.

But, now my meta descriptions cut off mid sentence when I use my site’s share button on social media. Before it would display the full content of posts (my posts are short but sometimes a bit longer than 156). Have you seen this before? Any ideas how to get it back to posting the full content without manually changing the meta description on each post? Or even making it so that when a post gets cut off there is an ellipsis and it doesn’t look so abrupt.

My site is http://www.profootballhotreads.com and here would be a sample post getting cut off by the said social media:
http://www.profootballhotreads.com/bill-barnwell-super-bowl-prop-bets/

Note: I also experienced a double title issue but it was resolved when I deactivated an opengraph plug in that was conflicting.

I tried posting on the Word Press Forum but didn’t get any help.

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Dan Kern Dan Kern February 19, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Hmm…I don’t see cut off descriptions on the link example you gave, but I’ve not heard of that either.

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Jason May February 20, 2013 at 7:45 pm

If you go to the link and hit either the facebook or G+ tag in a post, the meta is cut off when it posts to those sites.

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Jen February 21, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Fantastic. Thanks Dan!

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Summer Mote February 22, 2013 at 7:18 am

Thank you so much! I use this plug-in on all my sites but im always just a little confused about the best way to set it up. I followed your lead!! THX again!

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Dan Kern Dan Kern February 22, 2013 at 8:28 am

Happy to help keep it sunny in your world, Summer :)

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Ulrik Foldager February 28, 2013 at 1:37 am

Hi Kern! Great guide, thanks a lot for this work.

Have you had any issues with trying to save the SEO meta data on Media Attachments? I can update/save SEO meta data just fine on posts/pages, but my data doesn’t get saved when doing SEO on media attachments (pdf files, etc.).

Any clue?

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Dan Kern Dan Kern March 1, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I haven’t, sorry. I always just set the Media Attachment pages to “noindex” since they can be considered thin content by the Google Panda algorithm…thus, I’ve never had a reason to customize the meta data.

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Ulrik Foldager March 11, 2013 at 1:58 am

Alright, thanks for the reply regardless.

Do you happen to know of any ways to make our PDF documents SEO-friendly, though?

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Cool Booth March 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Thanks Dan. Finally someone explained the yoast plugin correctly with photos.

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Christian Rochford March 6, 2013 at 4:14 am

Hey Dan, this is a great summary of the yoast plugin, thanks for the tips. Any rcommendations on the .htaccess file editing? I’ll be using this to set my custom 404 error page, would be interested to hear how you use it.

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Dan Kern Dan Kern March 15, 2013 at 10:14 am

Hey Christian, I don’t use this area of Yoast’s Wordpress SEO plugin much besides to update the robots.txt file, however one could add 301 Redirect Rules to the .htaccess if desired.

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Kathy Dannel Vitcak March 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Hi Dan,

Thanks for such a great article! I went thru all my settings (yet again) and tweaked a few. I have a store, use WooCommerce, so that adds a lot more options on taxonomies and post types. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks agin for how freely you give of your time with this site. Greatly appreciated.

Kathy

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Dan Kern Dan Kern March 15, 2013 at 10:07 am

Can you post some of the additional taxonomy types that the Yoast plugin is pulling in? If they are pages of actual unique content (like a product page with a unique product description, or a category page with unique intro text that you’ve written), then you want to allow them to be indexed by Google. Otherwise, the page type is probably duplicate content (i.e. – tag pages) or thin content (i.e. – media attachment pages) and could get you penalized by Google Panda updates.

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Leah Whitehorse March 30, 2013 at 8:28 am

Thank you so much! That was incredibly helpful. Quite a few people I know have recommended this plug-in to me but I was feeling a little like a rabbit caught in headlights with the different options! This was just what I needed to sort it out.

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Dan Kern Dan Kern April 2, 2013 at 9:04 am

Wonderful, Leah…so happy to be of help with this guide. The Yoast plugin is really powerful and helps us focus on creating great (linkworthy) content if set up correctly.

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Mike Cowburn April 5, 2013 at 5:23 am

Dan,

You are a gentleman and a star guy.

Helped me a lot with my site :-)

Cheers mate!

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Dan Kern Dan Kern April 8, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Happy to help with this guide! The Yoast Wordpress SEO Plugin really is the best Wordpress SEO plugin on the market.

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sanyam jain April 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Great and precise step by step tutorial but is it wise to use Yoast Sitemap instead of Google XML sitemap??

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Dan Kern Dan Kern April 8, 2013 at 5:21 pm

The Yoast Sitemap is fine to use if you don’t need to block specific pages from the sitemap.

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RB April 14, 2013 at 11:42 am

Hi Dan – Question for you:

Currently, in Yoast, I have” title template” for tag + categ are populated with (%%term_title%% Archives %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%), while “meta description template” is (%%category_description%%) and (%%tag_description%%) respectively. I should point out that it’s a new blog with no real content just yet and my goal is to have elements set up correctly for smooth sailing. That said, as categories and tags get added, do I need to be filling out their descriptions so that yoast’s “description templates” pull that info? What is the benefit of naming categories? Lastly, if I don’t name and with my current set up, what would a search result end up looking like (what will meta be?)

Thanks in advance!
R

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Dan Kern Dan Kern April 16, 2013 at 9:24 am

I would suggest writing custom meta descriptions for each of your categories. Why? B/c you only have a max of around 150 characters to use…and most on-page descriptions for categories are going to be longer than that. It’s essentially a single sentence. You want 3-5 sentences (at least) for your on-page category descriptions. Regarding naming categories, just name them with the topic that they discuss. For example, if you have a blog category about Technical SEO, then name it “Technical SEO.”

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Josh April 15, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Dan,

It’s really kind when people who have knowledge of a subject are willing to help those of us who are struggling along find our way. This guide is of huge help.

In regard to categories and duplicate content, so I am clear, it helps to write unique, descriptions for each category? And when we do write these descriptions, should we put the information under the Yoast SEO Description, in the Wordpress description box, or in both?

Really, I do appreciate the help you’ve given us here! Maybe a post on canonical links someday? Makes my head spin!

Thanks again,
JB

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Dan Kern Dan Kern April 16, 2013 at 9:21 am

Happy to help, Josh. The Wordpess Description field is for the text that appears on-page to the user. That is a critical piece. I suggest writing 100+ words of unique, compelling text that uses your keywords without sounding spammy. Even boldface your primary keyword. The Yoast SEO Description is the “meta description,” which is what Google shows in its SERPs (as you may know already). Also important to fill out. Keep it under 150 characters, use your keywords and make it compelling. It is essentially the sales pitch for your page.

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Julie Fitzpatarick April 29, 2013 at 10:03 am

Hi Dan,

I am having trouble setting the SEO for my home page. When i go to the SEO Titles and Metas page and select the ‘home’ tab, it doesn’t look like your illustration above. Instead it says;

Homepage & Front page
You can determine the title and description for the front page by editing the front page itself »

But when I press the link it takes me back to my wordpress dashboard and I don’t know what to do from there. Can you help please? :)

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Dan Kern Dan Kern May 6, 2013 at 9:11 am

Hi Julie, that is strange. It should take you to the site Page that you’ve designated to be your home page in the SETTINGS > READING section of your Wordpress sites’ settings. How are your settings there?

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semidoppel May 10, 2013 at 9:19 am

Thank you for this guide, I am using all in one seo pack, but my blogmate told me that SEO by yoast is better. I have configured it just like what you suggested. Hats off!

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Andrew May 21, 2013 at 8:05 am

Hello Dan,

Thank you for the tips.

I have two questions:
– when I activate Wordpress SEO, my home page title gets repeated?
- og.locale is set to en_US. I found this as a way toapparently change it: http://wordpress.org/support/topic/plugin-wordpress-seo-by-yoast-how-do-you-set-the-oglocale-value
but adding that code to functions.php didn’t make a change for me.

Any clues please?

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Dan Kern Dan Kern June 11, 2013 at 11:46 am

I’ve experienced this on some sites too, and it seems to be an interference with the theme. I’ve not found a solution, but you may try checking/unchecking the “Force Rewrite Titles” checkbox on the main Wordpress SEO settings page to see if that helps.

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Sarah May 23, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Hi Dan,

Can you please help me on where to exactly put the breadcrumb code? Also, I use woocommerce and it has already a default breadcrumb but only appears in the product page. I want to set it all to my pages. Will it affect the website if I enable the Yoast breadcrumbs while the default woocommerce breadcrumb is still enabled? I hope this makes sense. Thank you so much for your help!

Sarah

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Dan Kern Dan Kern June 11, 2013 at 11:44 am

Disclaimer: Before editing your theme files, ensure you have a backup of them on your computer. If you break something, you’ll need to access your site via FTP and replace these files with the original code to get your site back to normal.

You can add your breadcrumb code in the single post, category, and/or the main index templates. Or you could post it to the header template. Go to Appearance > Editor in the left sidebar of your Wordpress site backend to access these files. Good luck!

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Tintin June 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm

I was using this SEO plugin for my blog. Your information was useful, but I want to know about the meta keywords check box in the general section. Is the metakeyword useful for SEO?

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Dan Kern Dan Kern June 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Hi Tintin, no the meta keywords box has no positive impact on rankings. Most SEO professionals leave this checkbox unchecked in the Yoast Wordpress SEO plugin. It can be useful for editors, however, who wish to keep track of the keywords they are targeting on each page.

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Josh B July 18, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Very nice write-up. Thanks for sharing the information. I’m in the middle of doing the SEO on our new updated website as we are migrating to WP and this came in very handy along with the SEO plugin by Yoast. Thanks!

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Dan Kern Dan Kern July 25, 2013 at 2:49 pm

No problem, Josh. Thanks for the compliment. Good luck with using the Yoast SEO plugin on your Wordpress site.

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Eddy D July 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Thanks Dan.
You the man.
I have referred back to this article so many times.
And it has helped me out a ton.

Thanks
Eddy

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Richard August 17, 2013 at 6:02 am

Thank you for this explanation. It is a part that the plugin author is either incapable of providing, or doesn’t care to provide.

In place of his arrogance, you have offered a straight-forward, easy to understand explanation of how to configure the plugin.

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Sampath Kumar September 16, 2013 at 11:28 am

Perfect article for a newbie user like me. Is there a way I can add nofollow tags to external links using the yoast seo plugin?

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Dan Kern Dan Kern January 17, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Nope. You need to manually reach out to the webmasters of the external sites linking to you.

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Smash Themes December 30, 2013 at 9:50 am

I’ve been using Yoast’s SEO plugin forever, but I never ticked those little boxes that clean up the “head” section. I was just unsure what they did, but if Google will like me more, I’m doing it. Now to just figure out a fix for Google’s preferences regarding “render-blocking javascript above the fold”. Onward and upward!

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Jamison Bell February 17, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Awesome post Dan!

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Josh Houghton February 27, 2014 at 2:40 pm

I had a question. In the part where you talk about adding descriptions to your categories, I’m a little confused. Am I supposed to write it in the description box or the SEO description area, which is under the Yoast Wordpress SEO Setting?

I was wondering if you could provide an example because I really can’t think of anything to write. For instance, one of my categories is diet so would my SEO title just be diet? I’m just confused by this area and where to put everything

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Dan Kern Dan Kern April 11, 2014 at 8:11 am

Happy to help, Josh. Here’s an example: http://www.sixstringsoul.com/category/guitar-tone-technique-blog/. Make your title more descriptive than just “Diet.” I would go with something like “Diet Advice Blog,” but it depends on the topic, the keyword you’re targeting, etc. The SEO Description is going to be your meta description, which is what search engines display in their search results under your meta/page title (it’s not used in the body content of your category page). For the description that appears on the actual page, above the feed of blog posts, that should be placed in the default category “Description” field, and your theme should be adjusted (in the Archive template, most likely, via customized PHP coding) to add that description atop your category pages.

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Andrew W. Garcia March 13, 2014 at 4:29 pm

I was going crazier than Miley Cyrus trying to figure out my image optimization with Yoast, but you dumbed it down like Lupe Fiasco so even I could understand. Wicked.

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Dan Kern Dan Kern April 11, 2014 at 7:40 am

LOL – Good one, Andrew.

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Peter March 16, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Useful, concise, direct and exceptional good guide. Instead of spending hours to understand what Yoast and his mates trying to tell everyone what is the best setting for their plug-in, i just need couple of minutes in here.

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Breno April 2, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Hi there Dan! Great article, it helped me a lot.

However, I am experiencing an issue with shortcode pagination. As mentioned: ” If you are using the shortcode to paginate a post, the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin will not add the page # into your meta title if you have customized the meta title. So, leave it blank for paginated Posts and the Post title will simply be used as the meta title.”

I failed to find a solution for this problem. Most of my pages use a blog shortcode and I am experiencing problems with titles and description for pagination. Could you help me with that?

Best regards,

Breno Lara

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Dan Kern Dan Kern April 11, 2014 at 8:06 am

Hi Breno, my only advice is to not customize the SEO Title for posts and pages if you are using pagination shortcode in the body content of the posts and pages. That’s the only way that I’ve found Yoast will properly implement page numbers in the meta title.

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