How To Properly Setup and Use the Free WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast

Installing and configuring WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast is one of the most important things to do after starting a WordPress blog. Yoast SEO is an important plugin for anyone looking to optimize their blog posts, pages and website at large for search engines.

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I have always heard people talk about how WordPress blogs are SEO friendly, I had no idea what it meant until I moved to WordPress. There are several important plugins that help make difficult tasks executed with one or two clicks. Also, there are SEO plugins on WordPress that can turn a beginner to a pro SEO content writer.

The two most important SEO plugins are Yoast SEO and all in one SEO park. In this tutorial, will show you how to properly install and configure the Yoast SEO plugin

Page Contents

Why it’s important to install Yoast SEO plugin.

Yoast SEO is a comprehensive SEO plugin that gives you so much functionality even with the basic plugin. Not to imagine what you get to enjoy by upgrading to their premium. For any new blogger who finds it difficult to upgrade to premium for so many plugins that require upgrades, I have observed a good balance for their usage. The Yoast SEO basic plugin accommodates people who don’t require so much SEO clean up. So for a start, the basic Yoast SEO plugin serves all the important purposes of you installing it. Here are the specifics you get to enjoy from the basic Yoast SEO plugin.

  • Ability to change SEO title for each post.
  • Change meta description of each post.
  • Search engine preview of the set meta description.
  • Set focus keywords for every post.
  • Generation of both image and post sitemaps for easy submission to search engines.
  • Removal of posts from sitemaps using the noindex tag, etc.

Step 1: install Yoast SEO

I have covered three ways you can install a WordPress plugin in my other publication. In this case, we are going to install directly from our WordPress dashboard. It is always the safest place to install a WordPress plugin from.

First, login to your WordPress dashboard. In the add plugin menu, click on add new plugin.

The yoast SEO plugin should be among the featured plugin. If you can’t find it, just type in ‘Yoast’ in the search bar. It should be displayed among the search result.

Click on install, and after installing, click on activate to have the plugin activated

Once activated, the yoast SEO plugin icon should be among your list of installed plugins on your WordPress dashboard.

Step 2: Access Yoast SEO DashBoard

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Head straight to your WordPress dashboard and hover your mouse on the Yoast SEO icon.

click on ‘Dashboard’ from you Yoast SEO drop down menu.

accesing newly installed Yoast SEO

Step 3: Enable Advance settings pages

Click on the ‘Features’

features menu Yoast SEO

scroll down to reach advanced setting page

enable Yoast SEO advanced settings pages

Most times, the ‘Advanced settings pages’ is usually disabled, click on enable to have it enabled.

Step 4: Update Website Info

Next, click on ‘Your info’ tab.

yoast info tab

Now, you have the option to give the details of your website, wether it is a company website or a personal website.

Enter your website name, company name and upload your logo in the spaces provided. If it’s a personal website/blog, click on the company and change it to person.

Click on save changes to implement the changes.

Step 5: Verify Website with Search Engines

The next tab is the ‘webmaster tools’. This is where you get to verify your site ownership after registering as a webmaster with search engines like; Google search console, Yandex, and Bing webmaster.

You are provided with meta tags by these search engine companies.

verifying website with search engines

Enter the meta tags in their respective spaces.

After entering, click on save changes to implement the changes made. Your website should be verified in no time.

The above changes are the only changes you should make on your Yoast SEO Dashboard.

Step 6: Updating Website Title & Meta Tags

Now, head back to your Yoast SEO icon, hover your mouse cursor on it. Click on ‘Titles & Metas’

updating website's titles and metas

The first thing you get to do is to update the separation symbol you want to see between your title. This separation symbol will be displayed in search engines and address bars of your browsers.

title symbols for Yoast SEO

After selecting preferred title separator, click on ‘Save changes’ to have it implemented on your website.

Next, head to the Homepage tab.

Here, you are able to edit the SEO title and meta description of your static page and blog page.

title and description

click on the title and description you wish to edit. click on the link to your front page to edit front page.

entering meta description and SEO title

on your static page editor, scroll down to the Yoast SEO area. Click on ‘Edit snippet. Enter your website SEO title and Meta description.

Your website SEO title is the title you wish to appear in search results. The meta description also appears along with the SEO title. This Meta description must contain the details of the service rendered by your website in a few words.

The Yoast SEO plugin provide guideline by indicating with a green color when your meta description falls withing the acceptable range.

Once you are done with editing, click on ‘Update’.

updating meta description changes

Repeat this same process for your blog page, and save as well.

On your on your Title & Metas, you don’t have to make too many changes as all the settings have been well optimized by the Yoast SEO plugin.

The Next change you have to make is dependent on whether you intend to run a multiple author or a solo author blog.

Go back to your Yoast SEO title and Meta tags page, and click on the Archives Tab.

disabling or enabling author's archives

If your blog posts will be published by one author, I recommend you disable the Author’s archives to avoid duplicate content issues with search engines.

You should not tamper with too many settings. Most of the settings are well optimized.

Step 7: Configuring Social Media Accounts

Yoast SEO provides you with the option to add the URLs of all your social media accounts. These social accounts are submitted automatically to search engines by Yoast.

adding social accounts

Enter the URLs of your website social media accounts in the spaces provided. For twitter, enter just the username.

Step 8: Generating XML Sitemaps for your blog

The easy generation of XML Sitemaps by the Yoast SEO plugin has added great value to WordPress SEO. This sitemaps are very important if you want your blog to get indexed quickly by search engines.

I will show you how to generate a Sitemap using your Yoast plugin. It is really simple.

Hover your mouse cursor on the Yoast SEO icon, click on XML Sitemaps.

generating XML sitemaps for WordPress SEO

First, you must enable the Sitemap functionality to access the features.

configuring sitemaps for WordPress SEO

By default, every other setting is well optimized. Like the maximum entry per sitemap is set at 1000 maximum entry per sitemap. I recommend you leave it that way.

Next, click on post types to select the components of your website you want included in your XML Sitemaps.

enabling media for sitemaps

By default, the media attachment is disabled from your sitemap. It is highly recommended you enable it if you upload a lot of media content to your website and you want them indexed by search engines.

After making all necessary changes, click on save settings to have it implemented.

You can remove specific posts you don’t want appearing in your sitemaps. All you have to do is enter the IDs of the posts you want to have removed.

To access this feature, click on the ‘excluded post’ tab.

excluding posts from XML sitemaps

If you want to remove more than one post from your sitemaps, enter the post ID’s format separated with commas.

Once you are done excluding posts from your sitemap, click on ‘save changes’ to have the new changes implemented on your website.

Step 9: Configuring the advanced settings.

The advanced settings has a few important functionalities that are very important for your website. In the advanced settings, you can enable breadcrumbs for your website, configure your RSS, and set up search engine friendly Permalinks.

To access the advanced settings, hover your mouse cursor on the Yoast SEO icon. click on Advanced.

configuring advanced settings

After clicking on ‘Advanced’, the first thing you get to configure is your breadcrumbs.

enabling breadcrumbs

By default, this functionality is disabled. Click on ‘Enabled’ to have it enabled. The reason it’s important to have Breadcrumbs enabled for you website is that it gives your readers an understanding of the path they followed to reach a particular post or topic.

Also, it gives search engines an understanding of your site structure. Which can boost your SEO, if search engines are able to understand and see that your website is well structured.

Other settings on the ‘Advanced’ menu are Permalinks and RSS. configuration of permalinks is also accessible on your WordPress general options. we have a full guide on how to configure Permalinks for SEO.

Step 10: Publishing SEO contents on your blog using Yoast plugin

After properly setting up WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast, understanding how to use it properly for writing search engine optimized contents for your blog is very important.

Before writing a new blog post, there are a few important things you must consider ~ like doing a proper keyword research, knowing a few exact match search queries, and what importance would driving such traffic to your website bear.

Having all these in mind, let’s see how you can get the most out of a free Yoast Plugin.

First, access your post editor.

If you have installed and setup WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast, it should now appear just below your post editor. This plugin offers guides to help your write an SEO content event if you are a newbie into SEO.

In your post editor, add a target keyword for your new post in the space provided.

choosing a focus keyword for your post

Noting down the focus Keyword for your post is the first thing you must do before starting a writeup.

After choosing your focus keyword, type in your blog post in the post editor.

Once you are done typing your blog post, choose your SEO title, Meta description, and slug.

Click on ‘Edit snippet’.

providing metadescription, SEO title, and slug

Enter your SEO title, Slug and Meta description in the boxes provided.

Your SEO title should be entered exactly the way you want it displayed in search engines. The good thing with this plugin is the ability to set a different title from what you have appearing in search engines.

Your Meta description is the text that describes the content of a post just beneath the title.

your slug is the URL of your blog post. It is advised that you avoid using stop words within your slug. Stop words are filtered by search engines.

Also, you can notify Yoast that your blog post is a corner stone content ~ i.e, It is a post you intend to build other blog posts around. A corner stone content is usually a content you will prefer to get good traffic for.

After choosing your preferred title, slug, focus keyword, and meta description, scroll further down the Yoast SEO area.

Yoast will provide an analysis of the post you have just written. It should look something like this.

yoast SEO analysis article

This analysis highlights all the problems and good results from your on page SEO. I suggest you pay close attention to the problems highlighted and fix all of them.

What do all these analysis mean?


  • Keyword density is 2.8%, which is over the 2.5% minimum: if you have over used a particular keyword on your article, it affects the readability greatly. Search engines will feel like you are trying too hard to stuff in too many keywords on your post. This can ruin your SEO: search engines will punish your blog post by pushing it far from the first search results for that keyword.
  • You are linking to  another page with the focus keyword you want this page to rank for: Now, this will have a great effect on your search engine ranking. Linking to a website that ranks for the same keyword you are trying to rank for is like surrendering authority to those websites. This is not very good for your search engine ranking.

Good Results:

  • The focus keyword appears in the first paragraph of the copy: For you to rank high on your focus keyword, always make sure it appears in the first paragraph of your blog post. If possible, make it the first word of your writeup.
  • Meta description contains the focus keyword: Your meta description is the information regarding your post that appears in search engines along with your SEO title. So, it is very important to include your focus keyword in your blog posts.
  • The meta description has a nice length: Now, for your meta description to appear in search engines the way you want it to, it must not exceed the viewable limit. This plugin helps your adjust your meta description so that it doesn’t exceed this viewable limit.
  • Focus Keyword appears in 4 (out of 11) subheadings: Having your focus keyword appear in at least one of your subheadings is very important. Therefore, you must always ensure you do this.
  • The images on this page has alt attributes with the focus keyword: When adding alt text (alternative texts) to the pictures you want to use for your blog post, it is very important to include the focus keyword in at least one of them.
  • The text contains 1885 words. This is more than or equal to the recommended minimum of three hundred: If you want search engines to crawl your blog post and display them among the featured results, then your posts must be up to 300 words. I personally think making your blog posts longer than that 300 words is the best. This way, your post will stand out among the crowd.
  • This post has 0 nofollowed outbound links, and 3 normal outbound links: for your post to rank hing in search engines, then you must include a few outbound links. Links to reliable and higher authority websites. Through this, search engines can tell that the content of your blog post is reliable. However, linking to websites that promote violent or porn contents can hamper your search rank. So, you must be careful what websites you are linking to.
  • This post has 0 nofollowed internal links and 3 normal internal links: Having a good internal linking on your blog posts help in keeping your readers engaged and reducing your bounce rates. If you are able to work on reducing your bounce rates, search engines will rank your blog posts higher.
  • The SEO title has a nice length: Like your meta description, here is a viewable limit for your SEO title. If your post title exceeds this viewable limit, search engines will truncate it. This is not very good for SEO. People will not be able to fully understand what your blog post is all about. So, you must always try to shorten your title, and include all the important points.
  • The focus keyword appears in the URL of this page: It is always very important to include the focus keyword of your post within the URL of that post. This helps in boosting the search engine rank. It is not the most important, but  it also plays a part.
  • You’ve never used this focus keyword before, very good: If you are trying to rank for a focus keyword, making excessive efforts can also ruin your goal. So, it is important to vary your focus keyword a few times.

Although, you can not always write a 100% perfect blog post. The final thing you should take note of is the SEO score and readability of your blog post.

It is located on the right sidebar of your post editor.

final SEO score.

Once you get SEO: Good mark, and a good readability score, you are good to publish.

If your article has grammatical issues, it will notify you by telling you~ Readability: Needs improvement.

If every issue has been resolve, or at least the major issues have been resolved, then you are good to publish your article.

That is pretty much all the basic about this awesome plugin, If you have any questions with your installation of the plugin, feel free to ask. I derive pleasure providing answers to my readers’ questions.

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