Wordpress SEO
By: Team Visible
February 8, 2013

WordPress SEO Plugins Reviewed: WordPress SEO by Yoast

Over the years WordPress has easily become the content management system of choice for loads of reasons; it’s easy to use, simple to update and because of the massive community that actively develops for it, there’s pretty much a plugin for any type of additional features you want. Today, we’re looking at a plugin which is specifically developed to help a WordPress site owner optimise their site for search engines; WordPress SEO by Yoast. This is one of the more popular SEO plugins and our plugin of choice when it comes to optimising WordPress sites.

We’ll do a quick rundown of what the most important sections to configure are, how to configure WordPress SEO properly, and more importantly, why we recommend you to configure it in that specific way. Obviously you’re free to configure the plugin as you see fit – but if you already know what you want it to do, this post is probably not for you 🙂

 Configure the WordPress SEO Plugin

1. Take the tour

Once you’ve installed the plugin, there’s a new section in the admin panel of your WP installation. Click on SEO and head to the dashboard (under the SEO section, not the general WP dashboard!) to start the tour. Can’t really miss the button since it’s the very first one you should see, but here’s a picture of it anyway, just in case. Oh, and it has a red circle around it too!

Yoast-SEO-Tour

There’s about nine slides that briefly touch on all the options that the plugin has to offer. Go have a read and go to step 2 once you’re done.

2. Titles & Metas

Making proper use of Titles and Metas on your posts and pages should be very high on your onpage optimisation list. Titles are the most important signals for search engines what the page is about. The further you place your focus keywords to the front of the title, the better. Also remember that it will impact CTR (click through rate) once that page is ranked. If you get a lousy CTR because people don’t like your title, you ‘ll start losing ground to the other pages on the SERP that do get a better CTR. Google will classify those as more relevant to the search query and start favouring them over yours (if everything else is equal).

Enable the following options (check them) like so:

  • General:
    •  Check NoIndex subpages of Archives
      • If you want to prevent /page/2/ and further of any archive to show up in the search results, enable this.
    • Check
      • Prevents search engines from using the DMOZ description for pages from this site in the search results.
    • Check
      • Prevents search engines from using the Yahoo! directory description for pages from this site in the search results.
  • Home:
    • Check Enable Author Highlighting and add the Google Publisher Page.
  • Post Types:
    • Leave the default string: %%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%
      • Example: This is your title | yoursite.com
    • Leave all options unchecked.
  • Taxonomies:
    • Check all options: noindex, follow
      • This will help you prevent duplicate content issues.
  • Other:
    • Date Archives
      • Check noindex, follow
      • Check
        • For the date based archives, the same applies: they probably look a lot like your homepage, and could thus be seen as duplicate content.

3. XML Sitemaps

Sitemaps have only one function and that is to make life easier for search engines to find what pages you want them to find. The Yoast plugin creates a post-sitemap and a page-sitemap XML file. There’s also a sitemap_index file, but we’ve found that Google Webmaster Tools reports errors at times with this file. We recommend to submit both post & page sitemap individually. Make sure you check all the parts o the site you do not want added to the sitemap files. I normally only allow pages and posts to get added.

4. Permalinks

  •  Check strip the category base (usually /category/) from the category URL.
    • To make your URLs a little shorter and a little neater.
    • Unless you have a personal preference because it looks different, I advise trailing slashes. They can shave some loading time off from the web server.

The  rest of the options is really up to your personal preference and if you have a huge site or not.

Make sure you test if this option didn’t break any URLs after enabling it!

5. Internal Links

To make sure you provide your users with the best possible navigation you’ll enhance user experience and increase your odds for a visitor to complete a goal on your site. Yoast has more information on Breadcrumbs.

  • Check Enable Breadcrumbs
    • Regardless of what page a visitor landed at, they can always find their way home, or any of the pages in between.
  • Check
    • The extra “Home” link isn’t necessary for most sites.
  • Check
    • This is a visual cue for your visitor, but it also acts as a signal to Google to make clear the page has something to do with the bold keyword. If you paid attention to point 2, you should have a very descriptive keyword here.

6. Want More? Here’s a heap of resources you can use to learn more about the WordPress SEO plugin and its use

  1.  The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites
  2. The Support threads on WordPress.org
  3. WordPress SEO, the only guide you need
  4. The Noob Guide to the WordPress SEO Plugin
  5. 20 minute walkthrough video on Youtube
  6. Email Us! We’re happy to help 🙂