WordPress SEO: How to Set Up your Website
In this short tutorial we will be covering how to install, setup and use the WordPress SEO plugin Yoast SEO on a WordPress website. If you’ve never done anything like this before then don’t worry it’s not as hard as it sounds. Just follow the steps below and you’ll have it up and running in no time.
The WordPress SEO plugin that we will be using is available to download for free here. The plugin itself focuses on taking care of all the technical on page optimisations and therefore helps improve your website’s WordPress SEO and search rankings.
How to Add the Plugin to WordPress
The first thing to note when installing WordPress plugins is that you will need to have WordPress set up on your own web hosting server. If you’re using the WordPress.com version that’s hosted on their website then you won’t be able to install plugins due to its limitations.
Having your own web host allows you to customise your WordPress much better and have more freedom overall. If you don’t have WordPress set up on your own web host already then we definitely recommend switching to that instead.
The easiest way to install a WordPress plugin is to use the search feature within WordPress itself. The search bar is a quick and easy way to install popular plugins as long as they are listed in the WordPress plugin directory.
The first step is to go in the WordPress admin area and login as the administrator. Once in you need to select the plugins tab on the left of the menu. This will open a list of other options below it. Click the ‘Add New’ button on the left. Then type Yoast SEO in the search bar at the top right.
The results from the search bar should load up and it should be the first result with the picture of a traffic light. Click the install now button on the top right and WordPress will download and install the plugin for you.
Once the plugin has finished installing it’s important you activate the plugin or else it will just sit there and do nothing. Click the ‘Activate Plugin’ link below and this will finish the installation of the plugin.
Configuring the Plugin for WordPress SEO Purposes
Once the WordPress SEO plugin has been installed it’s time to setup and configure the options. If you scroll to the bottom of the menu on the left there should be a SEO icon with a ‘Y’ logo in front. Click this to access the Yoast SEO options.
When you click the icon a new sub menu will load underneath and should have the following titles:
- Titles & Meta
- XML Sitemaps
These are all the options available in Yoast SEO to configure. We’ll have a look at the important settings to change and which ones to avoid.
The general tab allows you to set up the name of your website and how it appears on Google. You can change your website name, company name and company logo. The tab also includes the webmaster tools which allows you to link your site to the Google search console.
This gives you lots of information about your website such as if there are any errors or security threats. You can also tell Google to crawl your website and index the pages every time you have a new post. It is also possible to change the crawl rate of the Google bots if they are crawling the website too frequently and slowing it down.
The titles & meta tab allows you to (you guessed it) change the titles and meta descriptions on your website. An important thing to note on this section is to disable the ‘Use meta keywords tag?’ option under the other section tab at the top. This tag is over 7 years out of date and has even been confirmed by Google themselves that this has no effect on search rankings. If left enabled the only function it will serve is telling your competitors what keywords you are trying to rank for. Obviously you don’t want this to happen and that’s why we suggest turning it off.
The social tab allows you to configure your social media accounts on the website. This allows you to link to your Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ accounts. This is important for increasing your online presence and getting your social media accounts out there. After all there’s no point spending a lot of time on them in nobody is going to see them.
The XML sitemaps section allows you to edit your sitemaps options for the website. The sitemap is an important part of your website as it lets search engines like Google easily browse your website. Every time you create a new post on your WordPress website the sitemap will automatically be updated and it will also let Google know the website has been updated.
The options under this section are mainly to do with what is included in the sitemap and what is excluded. If you have a look through the tabs there are buttons for each section to select if you want it included in the sitemap or not.
The advanced section is for professionals only and you should definitely keep out if you don’t know what you’re doing. There’s nothing that exciting in it anyway just options relating to RSS feeds and Permalinks. If you have no idea what those words mean then it’s probably best you stay out.
In the tools section of the menu Yoast SEO comes with some very powerful built-in tools. The tools include;
- Bulk Editor
- File Editor
- Import and Export
- Recalculate SEO scores
These tools come with their own help sections under each tool so if you’re not too sure what they do then don’t worry there’s plenty of help available for them.
WordPress SEO Snippet Editor
Now you’ve configured the options for the plugin you can use the tool itself when posting new content on your website. To access this section of the plugin click the ‘Pages’ tab on the left of the menu near the top. Click edit on one of your pages and it should load up the WordPress editor. Scroll down to the bottom and you will see Yoast SEO snippet editor.
The snippet editor is how your page will be seen on Google and other search engines. If you click edit you can change things like the SEO title, the slug and meta description. Try to make sure you have a green bar for both. Having a red bar either means the text is too short or too long. If you scroll to the bottom of the page there will be a ‘Content Analysis’ section that will give you statistics and ways to improve your web page.
Whilst using the snippet editor you can also use the social tab which is the bottom one underneath the cog on the side. In this tab you can change the Facebook and Twitter social media settings such as how the page is viewed on them. This means you can change the title, description and image used when the page is shared on social media. This is a great tool as normally Facebook will just pull the first picture from the page and use that. The formatting can also be off causing the text to cut out mid-sentence by using the social tool you can fix all these problems.
WordPress SEO plugins are just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re new to SEO then it can be very time consuming to learn all the things required to get your website full up to scratch. Why not sit back and let the professionals do it for you. We offer a wide range of SEO marketing services from managing social media accounts to a full SEO consultation. Be sure to contact us below for more information.
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