Optimizing WordPress Website by Using Plugins
As we announced in the previous article titled WordPress SEO – What to do when Google robots come, this time round there won’t be much coding nor programming more than necessary for one WordPress addon to do its job. Optimization for search engines is done on two “battle” fields:
- In invisible part of website – in the very code that constitutes the website.
- In visible (readable) part of website – the part that is visible to visitors, not only search engines
Both fields are covered by an addon called WordPress Seo by Yoast. This manual will be shown in steps, images and explanations. It is aimed at beginners, but also seniors that need reminding about basic and compulsory details. Many assumed settings are quite enough and perhaps it is for the best not to reset what has been set good – at least in the beginning.
Step 1: Installing the WP SEO by Yoast Addon
Open your WordPress control panel. under Plugins, click the Add New option.
A page for searching and installing new plugins will open.
In search field, type the name of the plugin you need to find and then install. Since we are looking for the very same from the title, we’ll type: WordPress SEO by Yoast.
You will get search results immediately. If you typed it exactly as above, the aimed plugin will be at the first place (image below).
To install the plugin, click Install Now.
The plugin will be installed automatically after a while. You’ll be informed whether the installation ended successfully or not through a simple form that you can see below.
Step 2: Activating the Plugin Before Setting
In order for plugin to work, it needs to be activated. in WordPress control panel, go to Plugins, then choose Installed Plugins.
A page with all installed plugins will open. Among them is the one we installed just recently. Right below it is the activation option. By clicking Activate, you will make it work.
As an indicator that it has been successfully activated, additional options that are different from those before activation will appear.
Step 3: Setting the SEO
WordPress control panel’s main menu has received a new item called SEO. If you hover your mouse over it, an option card will open.
All those options are there to help you optimize your website without toils and with optimal organization. Each of them consists of provided in advance and neatly settled settings.
It is them that make it possible for search engines to recognize you and successfully include you in their future search queries.
Let’s move forward starting from Yoast WordPress SEO: General Settings page that you opened by clicking the item Dasboard. On this page there are following settings:
Introduction Tour: you can intiate a quick tour that will teach you how to use this plugin.
Default Settings: this button can be used when you wish to reset all the plugin settings and reset it to its default state. Handle this with care!
This option can be used as you desire. Its purpose is to let the programmers and developers of this plugin get better understanding of SEO troubles that you encounter. All of your data is secure, but if you do not wish for anyone else to keep track of your statistics, you can deactivate it.
Is this option is deactivated, it means that your authors and editors can create post redirections or turn indexing off. Whether you’ll activate it or not depends solely on how much you trust your authors.
Finally some tangible settings! Here you paste the code for verifying different webmaster tools such as:
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Bing Webmaster Tools
- Alexa Verification ID
- Yandex Webmaster Tools
Each of these items has a field for entering the codes and IDs. Each item is also a link leading to a specific Webmaster tool. On each link there are settings and explanations on how to get and verify the code that you will enter into a corresponding field.
If you already verified your website on some other way that can be found on Webmaster tools websites, feel free to skip this part and click Save Changes.
Titles & Metas
Once you’ve done all you had in Dashboard (and saved it), click Titles & Metas. There are five cards here, and those are:
Titles & Metas > General
Title settings – WordPress automatically recognizes when the time is right to “forcefully” correct your titles, but if you know what you’re doing you can activate a lasting correction of titles. We would recommend leaving it deactivated.
Title separator – choose a symbol that will appear between the heading of the article/page and the name of website.
The following options that you can see in General card, like Sitewide meta settings and Clean up the head are deactivated by default. Leaving them like that is not a mistake.
Titles & Metas > Home
It is here that you set the templates for home page and its meta data.
Title template: it is a template that can be seen in title track of your internet browser. By default, it is a sitename, page name, a separator, a site description…You can very well leave it like that.
Meta description template: Do not mix this description with the shorter site description (sitedesc) that is located in Title template and right below the main website title. This description appears in Google and other search results and describes your website, its purpose and goal.
Meta keywords template: These are the keywords of your website. It is important to take into account including the exact words that appear on your website. Do not use words for which you do not have a proper backing in articles because Google could severly punish you. Many people say that keywords are obsolete and that Google does not rely on them anymore because it crawls the website anyway and forms keywords by itself. But in any case, if you choose wisely you will not go wrong whether you type in something or leave this field empty. Take a look at an example at the picture below how Title template and Meta description template in Google search results look:
When you fill all the fields, save your settings by clicking Save Changes button.
Titles & Metas > Post Types
All the fields can be left unmarked, for a start. You won’t go wrong by going for the default WP settings.
Titles & Metas > Taxonimies
Here you can also leave it all in the hands of default settings.
Titles & Metas > Other
Leave default settings but do not forget to monitor SEO trends from time to time and do some research on all of these settings. Right now you should skip these because certain WP settings are already adapted well enough to web search engines.
This is a part that need not be explained thoroughly. Simply fill in all the cards with information on all of your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Google+). You have this data in case you are owner and admin of those accounts. In all three cases check the Add Open Graph meta data field.
We spoke about this in the first part of the article. In order to switch this option off, simply check the suitable field. And if you click the XML Sitemap button, you will be redirected straight to the location where your Sitemap is.
In this section, you take control of user sitemap options. Checking the field Disable all users with zero posts will not be a mistake on your part. Besides that, you can completely deactivate Sitemap for authors or some individual roles your team members have.
Ping Yahoo and Ask.com for you most certainly won’t go wrong there.
Exclude Post Types
You can leave out certain content from Sitemap, but do not do so with articles or pages, because they consist of the most vital details needed for a good and healthy SEO. You can leave out attachment, however.
No mistake made if you leave the default fields as they are, looking like this:
Entries Per Page
Enter the maximum amount of entries per Sitemap page. By default it is 1000 so it can stay as it is.
To save all settings, click the Save Changes button.
For anyone who is a novice, this section of settings is not something to lose your head about. We recommend leaving the default settings here, but also to check out the option Permalinks under submenu Settings. WordPress has a pretty bad default setting for SEO appearance of URLs, but you can fix that easily. To make it clearer, take a look at two types of URLs for the same page and see for yourself which one you prefer:
It is not particularly difficult to realize which of these two URLs will search engines prefer. WordPress, unfortunately, uses by the default the former of the two URLs. So if you go to the place we already mentions, under Settings > Permalinks (this is not under the installed plugin settings, but an integral part of WordPress!) you can change this:
Here you will find several choices, each better than the last. If it’s any help, we’ll tell you that we are using the one marked on the image -> Article Title.
Parts of WordPress SEO by Yoast That We Will Skip for Now
Settings such as:
- Internal Links
- Import & Export – options for import or export of settings from other similar plugins
- Bulk Editor – quick SEO items editor that you will not need in case you optimize every article neatly
- Edit files – editing the robots.txt and .htaccess files.
will be left for later. Details such as these have been done on WP platform more than sufficiently and it is recommended to change them only if you know what you’re doing. One of the reasons for that is not to go “overboard” with settings, for you can easily neglect what is truly important – the word itself, the article, content. There are even opinions that Google is less and less fond of perfectly set websites. Even if you have good intentions with overdoing it with optimization, you can easily reach the state known as Black Hat SEO, without realizing it. And that is not good, as already mentioned.
WordPress SEO by Yoast – Editing Articles and Pages
If you already wrote articles and created pages on your website, you know how it goes in WordPress. To create a new article, in main menu you click on Articles > Add New, and for new page you go to Pages > Add New:
In both cases, a text editor that hasn’t gone through many cosmetic changes over the course of years opens (although interface itself has changed). Here’s how it looks:
There is a field in which you enter your title. You can adjust the appearance of link (URL). There are also tools for editing the article. What you may not have noticed is that below the main editing area in which you write you article is now the section devoted to optimizing content. To be more precise, this part has been there since the installation of the plugin we are talking about all this time. Here is how this looks:
In this area for content optimization you have a pre-set form that you fill for each article or page. We are sure this looks a bit difficult to pick up on at this stage and you may think you are wasting your time, but you are wrong.
SEO Magic – Yoast Plugin in Action
I did not venture into writing this article for no reason. You will soon find out why. Let’s start from the beginning. You wrote an article. Entered the title, text, images, perhaps some video clip. Before you publish it, take another five minutes to optimize it for search engines.
Go to SEO editor below the article that I just reviewed. You will notice four cards in it, and those are:
B. Page Analysis
All four assist us in preparing the article to the very best it can be before publishing and adjusting it to conditions demanded by search engines. Here is how.
So, as it has been said before, once you’ve written an article we’ll begin optimization from scratch. In the first card titled General we have the following “helpers”:
- Snippet Preview – It previews the article as it will be seen in Google search results. This part is only for viewing what you write yourself and you don’t make any direct changes.
- Focus Keyword – Keyword of our article. Enter the word (or a slogan) that best describes your article. Keyword must be contained in all the other fields you see below.
- SEO Title – The part that is automatically taken from the title that you have set. It must contain focus keyword.
- Meta Description – the description of the article that will be seen in Google search results. It also must contain focus keyword.
- Meta Keywords – general keywords of the article. Multiple words that emphasize the subject of the article.
Make sure your keyword can be found in:
- Article Heading (article title)
- Page Title (heading of the page, which is drawn automatically out of the article title)
- Page URL (in page’s or article’s URL)
- Content (in the very content of the article)
- Meta Description
In case it cannot be found, you will get a notification pointing out this error. The job there is easy. If you are writing about earning money on internet, you will have it most certainly in article title, meaning that you will have the same words automatically in page’s URL. The same words will be mentioned in article itself, so add them into the field Meta description in SEO editor and you’re done with the General card. Here is how a well set card looks like:
Pay attention at green notifications that will let yuo know how many times is a keyword contained in said items. If it is not contained, the indicator will glow red until you fix the error. Here is an example of a badly set optimization:
What’s it all about in this example: The article title is WP Seo by Yoast, but the keyword does not contain any words from the title, which automatically assumes that the keyword does not appear neither in article link, nor in page heading, article content or meta description.
How to fix it: Write clear, easy to understand articles. If article is about purchasing a hosting plan and domain, the best thing to do is for title to be “Purchasing a hosting plan and domain”. Because, that is what you’re writing about and that will go into meta description later. Since there are words you’re writing on in the title, the same ones will be entered into meta description in the SEO editor. Problem solved.
In this card you can find all the notifications that concern the steps you have taken in General card. Next to it there is an advice that will help you with corrections. Remember, green is good, red isn’t. There are shades between green and red.
This one can be skipped as you have already done with similar settings in WP SEO plugin’s general settings. Default settings are enough.
If you are using social networks, Facebook and Twitter, in purposes of advertizing your website, this part will be helpful. Here you fill in the title and the description that will appear on social networks when your article is shared. You also present a picture here that will accompany your article, making it instantly recognizable.
If you share posts automatically via services who do it for you, make sure you enter the descriptions and the picture before publishing the article, because if you don’t they will be picked randomly which can end up poorly.
If you have green lights in cards General and Page Analysis, you have filled the descriptions with the picture for social networks, you can publish your first article or a page freely.
To us, all of these settings were, at first, another drop in an already filled cup of recommendations for website optimization research. Today, we are researching every single setting ourselves (there are many) and looking for a way to advance the entire thing. What seems easy at first glance is not easily accomplished, but this particular plugin makes it easier for all of us. SEO experts are not extremely expensive to hire by pure chance. You can get away with it for a small price, all it takes is a bit of time and learning. Use this manual for a start, follow the trends and changes in SEO. Website is a money-making business, a Google can be your best friend on web if you speak its language.
Hello Andrej, a Great tutorial on WordPress SEO by Yoast. I think you have made is very easy for an even non-technical person to install and configure the plugin for better SEO. The great thing about this post is how easy you have put down all the information with images. The images make the tutorial very easy to understand.