WordPress Optimisation With WP SEO by Yoast Plugin
Yoast is a dutch technical SEO and WordPress expert whose company provides SEO services and builds WordPress SEO plugins.
One of their plugins is WP SEO by Yoast and is highly recommended. In today’s episode we will look at optimising your website using this plugin.
Specifically today we will look at side-wide optimisation and in the next episode look at specific page and post optimisation.
So once you have installed the plugin a new menu item will apear in the left side menu named SEO.
When you hover or click on this a drop-down menu will appear with a number of tabs – let’s go through these;
General – this tab is where you start of you want a tour of the functionality or if you want to appraise yourself of the latest updates to teh plugin. I reccommend taking the tour if you’ve never used the plugin before.
Now each left menu tab has its own child tabs near the top of the page, so lets go through these child tabs for the general tab.
Company info – you can enter company name and upload a logo here – the guidance says;
“Google shows your website's name in the search results, we will default to your site name but you can adapt it here. You can also provide an alternate website name you want Google to consider.”
“This data is shown as metadata in your site. It is intended to appear in Google's Knowledge Graph. You can be either a company, or a person”
So by completing this section you can get some meta-data into Google to help them understand what the website and the business is all about.
Webmaster Tools – this is where you can verify your Webmaster Tools accounts – personally I have always done this manually as part of my regular work flow but the option is there for you if required.
Security is only relevant if you run a multi-author blog and other people have logins and profiles in WordPress.
Optimising Titles and Meta
This is one of the most important parts of site-wide optimisation.
General – There is a box labelled ‘Force rewrite titles’ and the guidance says;
“Yoast SEO has auto-detected whether it needs to force rewrite the titles for your pages, if you think it's wrong and you know what you're doing, you can change the setting here.”
If you notice any issues with your site and page titles – such a phrases or titles repeated when you are viewing them in Google or on the website then you’ll need to change this.
Leave it in its default setting to begin with and only chaneg it if you see a probelm.
Title Separator – this is simply a question of which character you prefer as a Title Separator – personally I leave it in its default setting.
Home Page Optimisation
Title template – this specifies the elements in the site title, again unless you know what you are doing and have specific reason to change it I recommend that you leave it in its default setting.
Meta description template – I leave this blank and complete the meta-description on a page-by-page basis. We go into detail about constructing a meta descriptin in the next episode.
Post types - On this tab you will have a number of identical option depending in your theme.
This tab controls which of your posts, pages and other content types are indexable by Google – as do the next couple of tabs.
Whatever your theme the first two options will deal with pages and posts and you’ll want to leave these as they are – there should be no boxes checked in these frst two options.
After pages and posts you will have options like Media, Slider, Container and maybe others which as I said depend on your theme.
My rule of thumb is to check the no-index box for everything except posts and pages – this will stop “thin content” pages being indexed in Google and your site being marked down due to thin content issues.
Thin content refers to sites and pages with little content which Google would consider not good for user-experience. WordPress creates individual pages for each content type and mostly you won’t want these to appear in Google – any content for your users will be on posts and pages so as long as these remian set to ‘index’ all your available content will be searchable and findable in Google by your users and prospects.
Taxonomies – this refers to categories and tags – Google creates a separate page or post for each category andf tag that a page or post has assigned to it. This is a problem now as Google has really cracked down on duplicate content, so you’ll want to make sure that categories and tags are no-indexed or else you will develop a duplicate content issue and Google will penalise you and you probably won’t even know it!
Archives – this refers to author and date archives – as well as categories and tags WordPress also creates additional versions of blog content according to date of publication and author and again this is just duplicate content and should be no-indexed.
Other – definitely check the first box, leave the second box and the 3rd and 4th boxes are only relevant if you have submitted to DMOZ and Yahoo directory. If you have check them both if not it is irrelvant.
The social tab refers to your social media accounts and you csan enter the URLs of your company’s social media pages.
On the platform-specific tabs along the top you can enter more detailed informtion for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+
Completing this section will provide Google with more information about your online properties and help Google build up a picture of your brand online.
The information will be added as meta-data to the HTML code that Google crawls when it visits your website.
An XML sitemap is a special sitemap for Google that you can submit to Webmster Tools and check that Google can find and index all your pages and other content.
Whilst there are other plugins available for this it makes sense to use the functionality here and reduce the overall number of plugins you are using on your WordPress site.
It is enabled by default and if you click on the box on this tab you will be taken to your XML sitemap.
Now you want the sitemap that Google accesses to tally-up with the content on your site that you are allowing Google to index, so that means you need to exclude from your XML sitemap all the categories, tags and archives that you have already set to no-index.
To do that first click on User Sitemap and check the Disable author/user sitemap box, then click on Post Types and check everything except the boxes for Posts and Pages.
Excluded Posts – if there are any private blog posts that you do not want Google to index you can add their ID numbers here. For most of you you can just ignore this tab.
Taxonomies – you’ll probably want to exclude ALL taxonomies from your sitemap – but again it does depend on what you initially checked in the Title & Meta section, but for the vast majority of business sites you’ll want to no-index everything apart from regular Pages and Posts.
Breadcrumbs – breadcrumbs are a trail of where your visitor has come from making it easy for them to see exactly where on the site they are and how they got there.
Whilst breadcrumbs are never a bad idea, most local business sites will not go more than two levels deep – meaning that a user will never be more than two clicks from Home – and so they are not an imperative. However if your website has a number of levels for example;
Then breadcrumbs become a valuable navigation aid for your visitors.
Permalinks – this is getting quite technical now so I’ll keep it simple. On this tab you will want to check the following options and leave the rest blank;
- Redirect attachment URL's to parent post URL.
- Remove stop words from slugs.
This will prevent WordPress from giving every image you upload its own URL whihc is bad for SEO and will give you cleaner more descriptive and keyword rich URLS.
Also check the following in the Clean up head section
- Hide RSD Links
- Hide WLW Manifest Links
- Hide Shortlink for posts
Doing this will just make things cleaner and easier for Google to crawl and index your website.
You can safely ignore the final three menu tabs - Tools, search Console and Extensions - as these are advanced and only apply to very specific functionality.
The one big take-away from today’s podcast is that you must no-index all the other versions of your pages and posts by checking the no-index box for everything except Posts and Pages, so that includes;
- Author archives
- Date Archives
- And any other versions that your theme creates.
Follow that up by editing your XML sitemap to reflect that – you really only want Pages and Posts appearing in your XML sitemap.
Once you have done these two things everything else is a bonus – these are the two actions that will make the most difference and after doing that you can lookat the other functions as you see fit.
That’s the end of today’s episode – next time we will be looking at Part 2 of the WP SEO by Yoast plugin and how you can optimise individual posts and pages on your website.