How to Configure the Yoast SEO Plugin for Your WordPress Site

By Lisa Sabin-Wilson

The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress makes your life so much easier because it automates many SEO tasks for you. This plugin is an absolute must for your site. It gives you a lot of control of your SEO, and it’s very flexible.

This plugin breaks down each option on the configuration page, which allows you to preselect options right off the bat or make some changes to the plugin.

After you install this plugin, click the SEO link on the Dashboard to open the Yoast SEO Dashboard page. Then click the General tab and follow these steps:

  1. Click the Open the Configuration Wizard button.

    This step opens the welcome page and starts the configuration process.

  2. (Optional) Enter your name and email address to sign up for the Yoast email newsletter.

    If you do not wish to subscribe to the newsletter, leave the text fields blank.

  3. Click the Next button.

    This takes you to the Environment screen.

  4. Select Production on the Environment page, and then click the Next button.

    The options on this page include

    • Production: This site is a live site with real traffic.
    • Staging: This site is a copy of a live site used only for testing purposes.
    • Development: This site is running on a local computer and used only for development purposes.
  5. Select the type of site you’re building on the Site Type page, and then click the Next button.

    Available options on this page include

    • Blog
    • Webshop
    • News Site
    • Small Business Site
    • Other Corporate Site
    • Other Personal Site
  6. Select Company or Person on the Company or Person page and then click the Next button.

    This data is shown as metadata on your site and is intended to appear in Google’s Knowledge Graph, a knowledgebase used by Google to enhance its search results. Your site can be a company or a person.

  7. (Optional) Add your social media profile URLs on the Social Profiles page, and click the Next button.
  8. Select the options for your post visibility on the Post Type Visibility page and click the Next button.

    WordPress automatically generates a URL for each media item in the library. Enabling visibility here allows for Google to index the generated URL. Select Visible or Hidden options for the following post types:

    • Posts
    • Pages
    • Media
  9. Select your desired option on the Multiple Authors page, and click the Next button.

    Does your site have (or will it have) multiple authors? Select Yes or No.

  10. (Optional) Enter your authentication code on the Google Search Console page, and click the Next button.

    This step allows Yoast SEO to fetch your Google Search Console information. You can skip this section if you don’t use Google Search Console.

  11. Enter your website name in the Title Settings page, select the character you’d like to use to separate your site title and content title in the Title Separator section, and click the Next button.

    Type the title of your website in the website Name text box.

    The Title Separator displays, for example, between your post title and site name. Symbols, such as a dash or an arrow, are shown in the size in which they’ll appear in the search results.

  12. Click the Close button on the Success page.
Yoast SEO plugin
The Yoast SEO Welcome page.

If you find that you need to change any of the settings in the configuration wizard, click any of the links on the SEO menu in your WordPress Dashboard to change the Title tags, Meta tags, and Social Media profile URLs.

Most of the remaining options that are selected by default should work fine for your site. Make sure, however, that Noindex is selected for the Archives pages (to find this setting, choose SEO→  Titles & Metas→  Archives) to make sure that the search engines are not indexing your archive pages. Indexing archive pages would provide the search engines with duplicate content that they have already indexed and that is one of the top ways of getting penalized by Google, which means you run the risk of having your site removed from Google’s search engine results completely.

After you make all your selections, click the Save Changes button at the bottom of any of the Yoast SEO settings pages where you make any changes.

You can use the Yoast SEO plugin right out of the box without changing any of the default options. If you aren’t confident in fine-tuning it, you don’t have to. But don’t forget to put in the proper information for your home page, including title, description, and keywords.

The Yoast SEO plugin also gives you full control of SEO settings for each individual page and post on your site by allowing you to configure the following:

  • Facebook and Twitter share title, description, and image
  • Title
  • Slug (or permalink)
  • Meta description (the short snippet of text that appears in search engine listings)
  • Preferred focus keywords

Another nice feature of the Yoast SEO plugin is that it gives you real-time analysis of your content by rating its readability and keyword analysis. It also makes recommendations for improving both before you publish your content.

Yoast SEO creates Google XML site maps for you, which you can configure by choosing Dashboard→  SEO→  XML Sitemaps.