Yoast SEO Tutorial: How To Set-Up and Install This Essential Plugin!


You can download it here.


This tutorial for the YOAST SEO plugin will be comprised of two parts. First, we’ll get right into the technical details of how to use Yoast SEO, our recommended settings, and the reason why behind our decisions for your website.

Then, we’ll get into the what and the why behind what this SEO plugin is doing to benefit your website, and an explanation of concepts as well as some need to know terminology.

SO, if you’re just looking to set-up the plugin to it’s optimal use, read part 1 and skip part 2.

If you’re feeling a little curious, read through this whole tutorial.

Ready? Let’s begin!


You will notice a new icon in your menu bar within WordPress. It will say SEO and will look like this:


Let’s go down the list of each menu item.



let’s go on a journey and visit GENERAL.

Under the general tab are your tutorial videos, latest update changes for the plugins and a button to restore defaults.

Under company info, you have the option to choose if your website is run by a company or a person. Choose which ever applies to your website.

but David…

Which one should I choose? Look, this data is used for Googles Graph box feature. Graph box? Yes, graph box. It looks like this:

mashable graph box


Now, this plugin can not force Google to create a graph box for your website. That’s up to Google. But what it does do is to provide the information needed to fill this box out if Google decides your website is popular enough to warrent it.

Under webmaster tools, you have the options to verify your website with all the major search engines. Click on each link and follow the steps to verify your website. You should take the time to verify your website.

Under security, you only have one check box. It gives you the option to give advanced SEO options to your writers. I always leave this check box checked.


Well, writers you hire for your website normally don’t need advanced SEO options like setting redirects and what not.



General Tab – Force rewrites – having this checked will have Yoast SEO rewrite your titles to be a bit more SEO friendly. I leave this unchecked as I when I write my content I want to write my titles and URL’s the way I want to. For the title separator, this is just the icon that will be used to separate your blog post title and your website name as it appears in Google and other search engines. Like, YOAST SEO PLUGIN TUTORIAL – Website Buddha. This is simply cosmetic.

Homepage – Just a few links to your homepage on your website to edit the title and meta information. Meta info is that snipit of information below the post title in the search engines.

Post Types – Let’s take a quick look:

post types

This section allows you to control if the date shows up or not in the search engines for your pages, posts and media (think images that could appear in Google image search). It also allows you to control if you want your pages and posts indexed by Google so they rank.

Normally, you will want to leave all of these UNCHECKED.


You’re a photographer or graphic designer and you don’t want your images indexed in Google image search. Then you would check off noindex, follow.

What about the date?

You will want to show the date for your content depending on the type of content it is. Some websites that publish time sensitive content, the date is important. Other website that have tutorial,how-to or click bait style content it’s not as important.

Search engines use the date to help with where to rank content. The idea that newer content is more relevant. Again, this simply depends on your industry.

Taxonomies – This tab covers your categories, tags and your author archive pages. Normally you will want to leave these unchecked and on their default setting. For most websites, categories alone are adequate. You don’t need to use tags.

But truthfully, you do need to experiment to see what works best for your website. I know everyone wants to be told exactly what to do, but this is a nuanced discussion. Over at Search Engine Journal, they tested the performance of noindexing but following taxonomies.

Harrison Jones suggest you do the following:

To NoIndex taxonomies with the WordPress SEO plugin, go to your WP dashboard and click on SEO in the sidebar. Select Titles & Metas. On the General tab, check the box to NoIndex subpages of archives. On the Taxonomies tab, check the box to noindex, follow categories, tags, and format. On the Other tab, check the box to noindex, follow author archives and date archives. Unless you have multiple authors, I would also recommend disabling author archives completely. 

Categories are for high level concepts like “cars”, tags would be for something specific within the cars category like “Ford” or “Mercedes”. You SHOULD be using categories and each category should have a relevant keyword in them.

Forget “thoughts” or “random” as a category title. Pick something that makes sense to your website.

On WebsiteBuddha.com we use keywords related to our core topics like web design, copywriting and domain names.

So I agree with Harrision, BUT you must be doing 2 things on your website before you noindex your tag and/or categories:

  • Optimized pagination.
  • Use breadcrumbs on each page of your website (except the homepage perhaps)




Search engines and your visitors must be able to find all your pages within as few clicks as possible. You don’t want duplicate content with your homepage, blog post page, author archive page and categories page having the same content. That’s why you want to noindex these taxonoies pages.

BUT, search engine spiders still must be able to crawl your website, so you need to set up the right architecture first.

It’s simple, use pagination and not infinite scroll.

Optimized pagination – MOZ has a great study on this. Use pagnation, but start to break up your categories into subcategories as your website grows. With the goal to have no more than 100 items in each category.

Breadcrumbs – Breadcrmbs are that feature you see on website that tell you where you are:

Home page > Section page > Subsection page

Use breadcrumbs.

They help search engines index your website and organize your content as well as being very helpful to your visitors.

You need to use these two items on your website. Then, you can noindex/follow your taxonomies.


social yoast

The social function helps tell Google your social profiles. This is important because it helps build out your graph box (see the graph box for Mashable.com – those social icons come from the information put here) as well as to help your social profiles rank accordingly.


xml sitemaps

A sitemap is a map of all the pages on your website. It’s used by search engines and users to navigate your website. By default, Yoast SEO sitemap includes all your posts, pages and any categories and tags you use for your website while excluding anything you add to your media folder (which will be made up of pictures mostly).

I would keep everything as it is by default.


advanced seo

Breadcrumbs – This tab allows you to enable or disable breadcrumbs. If your theme already uses breadcrumbs, you can disable Yoast SEO breadcrumbs here.

Permalinks – This tab has some advanced options for specific needs. Mostly, you don’t need to change anything. The only thing I check off here is to redirect attachements to the URL’s parent post. I don’t want attachments to rank, I want the post the image is attached to, to rank and be indexed.

RSS  – Nothing to change here. It simply adds a link to your content so when a scraper picks up your content and syndicates it on blogs it will link back to the original source automatically. This helps reduce duplicate content in the search engines.



The tools page for this SEO plugin. This is where you can import your old SEO data if you used another plugin before YOAST SEO. Bulk editor let’s you make quick changes to post titles without having to open the post and the file editor let’s you edit files like your robots.txt. I personally only use the bulk editor. If I want to edit files like the HTACCESS or the robots.txt, i’ll just log into my server via FTP.


search console

This area makes it easy for you to verify your website with Google Search console (formerly webmaster tools). Simply click on “get Google Authorization code” and follow the instructions.

Search console is not your analytics, it’s an broad overview of how your website is ranking, what keywords are being used to find your website, any HTML errors that exist, search engine warnings that you need to fix and it’s also where you can submit your XML sitemap for your website.


Without this plugin, you’re at a disadvantage compared to other websites running this plugin.

It supports breadcrumbs.

It provides an oustanding XML sitemap for search engines that includes images, removable and configurable taxonomies.

It allows you to verify your website with all the major search engines.

It allows you to quickly and easily noindex and nofollow any page, post, or category you want with the click of a button.

Post titles and meta data can be changed per post. You can also tell search engines one title for your blog post, but ON PAGE have a slightly different, less keyword focused title.

Yoast SEO allows you to keyword test your blog post or page for SEO purposes.


Ah, the last step. Thought you were done?


To get the biggest use out of this plugin is to use the built in keyword testing feature. Let me explain how I use this feature in conjunction with other tools.

Step 1: Find keywords for your blog post. You want to find something with a decent amount of search volume. Usually something that is a long tail phrase.

Step 2: Analyze the competition on the first page. Check for page rank, back links, and if the ranking content has the keyword in the post title.

Step 3: Craft your content with a keyword you think you could rank for base on step 2.

Step 4: Use page analysis tool for your keyword.

Input your keyword into focused keyword:

yoast seo

If you see a bunch of red “nos”, do what needs to be done to get them to a green “yes”. To get them to be a green yes, you need to have your keyword in your title, in your URL, within the content a few times and in the meta description.

Click on page analysis to go more deeply into the content:


You don’t need to have everything green. If something is red however, I would fix it so it’s at least an orange.

Yes, this is a fun way of gameifying the SEO experience.

So there you have it. A complete tutorial on how to properly install and setup the Yoast SEO plugin for your WordPress powered website. Take a moment and share this Yoast SEO tutorial.