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How to Install and Setup WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast

Do you want to properly install and setup Yoast SEO plugin in WordPress?

Yoast SEO is one of the best WordPress SEO plugins on the market and offers a comprehensive set of features to optimize your website.

However, many beginners are not familiar with the SEO lingo and find it difficult to decide which plugin options they should turn on.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the complete Yoast SEO plugin set up in WordPress and give your website an SEO boost.

Properly installing and setting up the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress

Features

Yoast SEO is the most comprehensive WordPress SEO plugin with many built-in tools and features. Here is a quick overview of some of those features.

  • Change post’s SEO title and meta description on a per post basis.
  • Title and meta description support for taxonomies (e.g. category and tags).
  • Google search result snippet previews.
  • Focus keyword testing.
  • Meta Robots configuration:
    • Easily add noodp, noydir meta tags.
    • Easily noindex, or nofollow pages, taxonomies or entire archives.
  • Improved canonical support, adding canonical to taxonomy archives, single posts and pages and the front page.
  • RSS footer / header configuration.
  • Permalink clean ups, while still allowing for Google Custom Search.
  • Breadcrumbs support, with configurable breadcrumbs titles.
  • XML Sitemaps with:
    • Images
    • Configurable removal of post types and taxonomies
    • Pages or posts that have been noindexed will not show in XML sitemap (but can if you want them too).
  • XML News Sitemaps
  • .htaccess and robots.txt editor
  • Ability to verify Google Search Console, Yahoo Site Explorer, and Bing Webmaster Tools
  • Basic import functionality for Platinum SEO Pack and All in One SEO plugins. (You can also use the SEO Data Transporter to transfer functionality from themes like Genesis child themes).

The premium version of the Yoast SEO comes with even more features.

  • A redirect manager that allows you to easily set up redirects.
  • Ability to use multiple focus keywords
  • Internal linking suggestions
  • Ability to export focus keywords
  • Video tutorials to help you understand each feature of the plugin.
  • Premium support provided by the folks at Yoast to help you make the most out of your site’s SEO.

For more features and details you may want to see our comparison of Yoast SEO vs All in One SEO Pack.

How to Install Yoast SEO Plugin

First, thing you need to do is install and activate the Yoast SEO plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you’ll notice a new menu item in the WordPress admin bar labeled SEO with the Yoast SEO logo on it.

Yoast SEO plugin installed

Now that you have installed and activated the plugin, let’s take a look at how to properly setup this powerful plugin.

How to Setup WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast

You should remember, that the settings that we select are the ones that we recommend. Other experts may have their own preferences and discretion, so advanced users can ignore anything that they do not like.

If you are a beginner, and you want to use Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin as we do, then please follow along with the steps carefully.

Step 1. Import your SEO Data

If you are setting up Yoast SEO on a new WordPress website or blog, then you can skip this step.

Other users, who are installing it on an existing website may have been using some other WordPress plugin for SEO like All in One SEO for WordPress, or a theme framework like Genesis dealing with your SEO data.

If you want to successfully use this plugin, then you need to make sure that all of your previous data has been transported to this plugin before you deactivate the other one.

To accomplish this, we recommend using SEO Data Transporter plugin. It allows you to easily transport your SEO data between popular SEO plugins.

Step 2. General Settings

Clicking on the SEO icon takes you to the settings page for the plugin. Switch to the ‘General’ tab and you will notice a button to open the configuration wizard. We want you to ignore this wizard, because we will be taking you step by step through each option.

Close set up wizard

Step 3. Features

Yoast SEO comes with a lot of features. This page allows you to easily turn those features on and off. By default, all options on this page are turned on.

Enable or disable Yoast features

We’ll talk about some of them later in this article. For now, let’s take a quick look at each item and what it does.

  • SEO analysis : Shows the SEO score and analysis for your content.
  • Readability analysis : Shows the readabity analysis and score for your content.
  • Cornerstone content : This feature allows you to mark and filter cornner stone content. These are your most important pillar articles.
  • Text link counter : This feature shows the number of internal text links to and from and article.
  • XML sitemaps : Creates XML sitemaps for your website.
  • Admin bar menu : Shows Yoast SEO menu in the WordPress admin toolbar.
  • Security: no advanced settings for authors : Hides advanced SEO settings from authors to improve security.
  • Usage tacking : Allows plugin author to track some usage data. It is turned off by default.
  • REST API: Head endpoint : This Yoast SEO REST API end point allows you or anyone else to fetch SEO data for specific WordPress post or page. We recommend that you turn this feature off if you are not building a headless WordPress site.
  • Enhanced Slack sharing : This feature adds an author byline and reading time estimate to the article’s snippet when shared on Slack.

Don’t forget to click on the Save changes button to store your settings.

Step 4. Integrations

Yoast SEO offers built-in integration for SEMRush and Ryte platforms.

Yoast SEO integrations

SEMRush is one of the best SEO tools on the market. This integration helps you find related keywords that match your focus keyword and then improve your content accordingly.

Ryte is an online tool that checks your website for indexibility and alerts you in Site Health report when it is not indexable by search engines.

We recommend leaving them both on.

Step 5. Webmaster Tools

Popular search engines allow site owners to add their sites using webmaster’s tools area. See our complete Google Search Console guide to learn more about these tools.

Yoast SEO makes it easier to verify your website with all top search engines. In order to do that you need to sign up for webmaster tools program for each search engine.

After that, you’ll be asked to add a meta tag to verify your ownership of the website. Simply add the meta code that you received from the search engines in the respective fields.

Verifying webmaster tools in Yoast SEO

Step 6. Search Appearance

Search Appearance in Yoast SEO settings controls how your website appears in search results. This includes several options for your homepage, single articles, archives, and taxonomies.

We’ll walk you through each one of them. Let’s start with the general settings first,

1. General

Here you can choose the symbol you want to use a separator between titles. The default option is a dash, you can use it if you are unsure which symbol to choose.

Search appearance settings in Yoast SEO

On this page, you can also choose the SEO title and meta description for your website’s homepage.

Adding homepage title and description

Note: If you are using a static home page, then you can set the homepage title and description by editing the page individually.

After that, you will find the knowledge graph and schema options for your website. You can choose whether your website represents an organization or an individual.

Knowledge graph and schema options in Yoast SEO plugin

You can also upload a profileo picture for the individual or a website logo for a business.

2. Content Types

You can choose an SEO title and description for each post or page that you write. Yoast SEO also allows you to set up an automatic template to use for them.

In case you forget to add them manually, these options will allow Yoast SEO to use default settings to automatically fill in those options.

Search appearance settings for each content type on your website

You will be able to set search appearance and whether or not to show SEO meta box for each content type. The default options would work for all websites.

After that, you can set SEO title template and a default meta description.

However, we recommend you only tweak the SEO title and leave the meta description field blank. This would allow Yoast SEO to dynamically generate a description from the first few lines of your article.

3. Media

By default, WordPress creates a new page for each image or media you attach to your posts and pages. This page only displays the attachment media.

Those attachment pages have no significant text to provide search engines a context. Such pages are considered low-quality content by search engines and have a negative SEO impact.

Yoast SEO helps you fix that by redirecting users to the attachment file instead of the attachment page. This option is set to ‘Yes’ by default and you don’t need to change it.

Disable attachment pages

4. Taxonomies

On the taxonomies tab, you can configure titles and meta for categories, tags, custom taxonomies, and post format archives.

Default template variables should work for most sites. As for descriptions, please remember that Yoast SEO picks up descriptions from your categories and tags.

Taxonomies

5. Archives

The Archives tab allows you to control search appearance options for miscellaneous archive pages on your website. This includes author, date, search, and 404 pages.

The default options will work for most websites. However, if you run a single author blog, then you need to disable author archive pages from search engines.

Disable author archives from appearing in search results

On a single author blog, the author archive pages are exactly like the date archive or your blog pages. This creates duplicate content which affects your SEO rankings.

6. Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are great for internal linking because it defines a clear path or trail to the page you are on. These breadcrumbs also appear in search results giving your site an extra advantage in the search.

Breadcrumbs displayed in search results

The default settings should work for most websites, but if you want to change something then go ahead and make your changes.

Breadcrumbs settings in Yoast SEO

Make sure you set the option to ‘Enabled’ to make it visible with your WordPress theme.

If you want more robust breadcrumb features, then take a look at Breadcrumb NavXT plugin, that’s what we use on WPBeginner.

7. RSS

RSS Feeds are often used by content scrapers to copy content from your website. Yoast SEO allows you to add a backlink to your own site for each post in your RSS feed.

RSS settings in Yoast SEO

This way, you will get backlinks from their site, and Google will know that you are the original source.

There are options to add your author link, Post link, blog link, and blog description. So get creative. This can also be used to add advertisements to your RSS feed.

Step 7. Social

As we said earlier, Yoast SEO is a powerhouse packed with many features to provide comprehensive optimization.

One great feature of the plugin is that it integrates your site with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other platforms.

Clicking on the Social link under the SEO menu will take you to set up these platforms. We will show you how to configure each of them.

1. Accounts

The first tab under the social settings is for all your social accounts. This allows Yoast SEO to tell Google about your social profiles. You need to simply add the URLs and Twitter username for the main social profiles of your site.

Add social media accounts in Yoast SEO

2. Facebook

You need to make sure that open graph metadata option is enabled under the Facebook tab. It allows Yoast SEO to add Facebook open graph metadata in your website’s <head&gt section.

Enable Facebook Open Graph in WordPress using Yoast SEO

You can set the image you want to use for your homepage.

This will help Facebook pick up the right thumbnail and page information when a post from your website is shared on Facebook.

Below that, you will can add a title and description for your homepage. This title and description will be used when your homepage is shared on Facebook.

Additionally, you can provide a default thumbnail image URL. This image will be used for all articles that do not have a thumbnail or any other image.

Setting a default image to be used on Facebook

3. Twitter

As for Twitter, you can add Twitter cards into your site’s head section.

You can also choose the card type to use. We recommend using summary with large image.

Set up Twitter card in Yoast SEO

4. Pinterest

Pinterest uses Open Graph meta data just like Facebook. Make sure that you have open graph meta data box checked under Facebook settings.

After that, you just need to enter the site verification code provided by Pinterest. Simply visit your Pinterest account settings to add and verify your site. You will be provided with a meta tag that you need to enter here.

Confirm your site on Pinterest using Yoast SEO

Step 8. Tools

Yoast SEO comes with some built-in tools that allow you to perform some advanced tasks. Most beginners may not need to use these tools. However, we will show you each tool and what it does.

Tools Yoast SEO

1. Import and Export

If you previously used another WordPress SEO plugin or a theme with built-in SEO functions, then you can use this tool to import SEO data.

Import Export SEO settings

You can also use it to import and export Yoast SEO plugin’s settings and use them on a different WordPress site.

2. File editor

As your WordPress site grows, you may often come across tutorials asking you to add some code to your website’s .htaccess file or robots.txt file.

Both of them are configuration files and have a huge impact on your website’s SEO. Yoast SEO allows you to easily edit both files directly from the WordPress admin area.

Edit robots.txt and .htaccess files

3. Bulk editor

The bulk editor tool in Yoast SEO allows you to quickly add SEO title and description for all your blog posts and pages.

Under the Titles tab, you will find a blank field to add your new SEO title for that blog post. After that click on Save link to store your changes.

Bulk edit SEO title and description

To add descriptions, you will need to switch to the descriptions tab. Once again, you will be able to add a description for each blog post or page and save it.

Bulk description

Step 9. Redirects Manager (Premium)

Yoast SEO Premium adds a powerful redirect manager. This allows you to quickly set up redirects on your WordPress site.

Using the redirect manager you can quickly fix 404 errors, redirect users from an old article to a new one, and more.

Redirects manager in Yoast SEO premium

Note: Redirects play an important role in your website’s SEO. We recommend not tying it up with your SEO plugin.

Instead, you should use a dedicated redirect manager like Redirection to manage your redirects. This allows you to keep redirects working even if you stop using Yoast SEO.

For more information, see our guide on how to set up redirects in WordPress.

Step 10. Optimizing Your Posts and Pages with Yoast SEO

Just installing and setting up this plugin is not enough. In order for you to really maximize the benefit of this plugin, you need to customize the settings on per post basis.

Let’s take a look at how you can maximize the benefits by optimizing each post/page in WordPress.

Simply edit any post or page and you’ll notice a new Yoast SEO metabox below the post editor.

Yoast SEO meta box below a post editor

You can start by adding a focus keyphrase or keyword. This is the main keyword, which you think your users will enter in search engines to find this post.

After that, Yoast SEO will check your post content for SEO and Readability analysis. You can view the analysis to further improve your article.

Sometimes your post title and your SEO title might not be the same. Every time, you should write a custom SEO description because the excerpt generator only picks up the first paragraph which might not be the most important one.

Pro Tip: SEO and readability analysis report in Yoast SEO is quite accurate and immensely helpful in improving your content. However, don’t kill yourself over it or you will be spending more time following the analysis instead of creating better content for your users.

To learn more about on-page optimization, see our article on how to optimize blog posts for SEO.

Step 11. Optimizing Taxonomies for SEO (Categories and Tags)

Just like your post and pages, you can also override the SEO title and meta descriptions for category, tag, and author archive pages.

Simply visit Posts » Categories page and click on the edit link below any category. On the category edit page, scroll down to the bottom and you will see the Yoast SEO meta box.

Optimizing a category or tag in Yoast SEO

You can do that for all your categories, tags, and custom taxonomy archives.

Step 12. Optimizing Ecommerce Products

Yoast SEO comes with full support for online stores and eCommerce websites using WooCommerce. This allows you to optimize your product pages just like you would optimize blog posts and pages.

You’ll find all eCommerce SEO options when adding a new product to your website. You can also edit any old product and optimize it by entering a focus keyword, SEO title, SEO description and more,

Optimizing products for SEO

For more details, see our complete WooCommerce SEO guide with step by step instructions.

We hope this guide helped you install and setup the Yoast SEO plugin on your WordPress website. You may also want to see our step by step WordPress SEO guide for beginners, and our comparison of best keyword research tools.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. See how WPBeginner is funded, why it matters, and how you can support us.

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Reader Interactions

246 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Hi – I cannot find the screen at the top of page 7 (Homepage – SEO Title – Meta description) on my Yoast installation when I try to follow along this tutorial. How do I access this screen? Thank you! Gary

    • Yoast may have updated their interface for this, we will be sure to take a look and update our article when able.

      Admin

  2. Just wanted to say thank you for the help. I couldn’t (and wouldn’t have known how) to set this up on my own. Appreciate the advice – and for free too! xx

  3. Thank you so much.
    This one article my all doubts about yoast seo.
    And also i found some important post links.

  4. This is really useful. I installed and activate Yoast as per your guidelines but XML sitemaps menu is not displaying. What should I do ?

  5. Any chance of updating this, folks? So much of it no longer applies since the big Yoast update last year.

  6. My yoast SEO does not have a tab named ‘your info’, nor does it have an option under features for ‘advanced settings’. Why not?

    • Yoast has likely updated their interface since our last update of this article.

      Admin

  7. I have been reading a lot of your posts now. I’m actually starting out with a new blog and your articles really helped me a lot to understand the basics. thankx fr sharing this useful information.

  8. I came across your post doing a google search. Took the time, followed the instructions (which was very easy). Overall I had a very productive day. I just have to thank you all. This was very helpful.

  9. while google verification number on the webmaster tools verification number .It keeps give me this “Oops! That page can’t be found.”
    what happened

  10. Hello,
    As already mentioned by the two comments posted before mine, your article refers to an outdated version of Yoast. I was still able to install the plugin and adjust the basic settings as desired, however it turned out to be quite time consuming as I had to look for explanations elsewhere on the net.

    Any chance you could update this tutorial?
    Thanks!

  11. My dashboard does not show all the seo tags and information as shown in the above instructions…half seem to be missing….so unable to do most of the seo plug in work.

  12. Is there any reason that when I go to my Yoast plugin, and click on SEO, that I only have 3 tabs – Dashboard, Features, and Webmaster Tools? No Your Links, Security, etc.

  13. What’s the best way to add Google Analytics? should i add the code using Yoast or using the plugin Insert Headers and Footers? since I’m using this for Google Adsense?

  14. Hi Wpbegginer
    I have missed the Data Transfer part before setting Yoast SEO. Can I go for Data transfer at this moment. Wiil it create any problem?
    Please guide
    I am using genesis framework

  15. Most of the menu items don’t exist in the plugin I just downloaded 3 hours ago. Nothing matches this tutorial. Why?

  16. Great post..! I’ve been using Yoast and was wondering: how important is it to have the exact keyword phrase density in the blog post?
    For instance, if my focus keyword is ‘Weight Loss’ and I also use ‘Lose weight’ in my blog post, should I change ‘lose weight’ to ‘weight loss’ in order to fall under Yoast’s recommended keyword density?

  17. This is an awesome article and was SO helpful in setting up Yoast. There are a few things that have been added/removed so I would love to see an updated version of this. Please let me know if you decide to do one. I love this site and have used it many times while learning the WordPress Monster :)

  18. Hi! I’m having a problem with the YOAST Plugin. Even old versions. Every time I activate the plugin, I get the 500 Internal Error. It seems a problem with the theme, because if I use other theme, the plugin works fine.

  19. Very good article.
    Very easy understanding for non tech person.
    I have one question that yoast increase page loading time or not ?
    Because before installing yoast pages are loading in 0.45 sec. but after yoast time increased and it’s 0.95 sec so is it due to yoast ?

  20. This is my favorite plugin. You have done a good job of explaining every part of it.
    Please be noted that this plugin has been updated and there are a few changes to it. I am waiting to read the updated version of this guide.
    Thank you and great work guys.

  21. Hi, useful article, thanks. I am trying to follow step 12, for the Google Search Console, but each time I enter the authentication code it comes back saying “no profiles found, reauthenticate”. I must be missing something but for the life of me I can’t work out what it is. Any help would be great.

  22. I am using YOAST SEO plug-in for my wordpress site. Under Social – Yoast SEO I am able to enter the URL for my Instagram page.

    However, every time I click on my Instagram logo on my website I get an error saying

    “Sorry, this page isn’t available.

    The link you followed may be broken, or the page may have been removed. Go back to Instagram.”

    Somehow the very last character of my Instagram URL gets deleted.

    The URL shows up correctly in my Yoast social page but once I click the social button the last character gets deleted and therefore I get a error message.

    Please help me.

    Thank you

  23. My WordPress Yoast SEO plugin stopped working and I don’t know why. How do I get it to work again? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

  24. Hi, I have my personal blog. In my Google search results, the article link is shown and not the breadcrumbed link like in case of wpbeginner. For example if your article is how to install and setup yoast, in google the link would be w, where as in my case it is
    i want breadcrumb link in all my google results, is it possible through yoast or some other means?

  25. Thank you for the great article.
    I followed your tutorial to setup yoast from my woocommerce store. I still have 1 little problem: How can I set a default focus keyword template to all my products at once the way you do for SEO titles and meta description? setting them individually is a real hassle. I just want the search keyword to include %%title%% followed by the name of my country.

  26. Hi, i created a hotel site for my company using wordpress. I have also installed the Yoast SEO but i have no knowledge of what to do so as to get my site search friendly on search engines. Please is there any way you can help me with this problem because i have zero knowledge on this. I have tried all the directions i found on the internet but i have no clue what to do or what the issue is.

  27. Sir i have most common problem with seo yoast….seo yoast someday working fine. But today some that seo yoast all setting not show.. Only show “save changes” button..i mean no option show to change settings . Only show “save change”…plz help me

    • Hey Aman,

      Try switching off all other plugins except Yoast SEO. After that connect to your site using an FTP client. Next, backup and delete the .htaccess file from the root /public_html/ folder. Check if this resolves the issue. If it does, then reactivate plugins one by one, each time refresh Yoast SEO settings page until you find out the plugin that caused the issue.

      Admin

  28. I followed your steps as outlined above. So far all works well except for one thing. When I share a specific page on Facebook, what appears is the the information from my FB open graph meta tags of my homepage instead of the specific page I shared.
    How can fix this?

  29. Hi. I installed SEO Data transporter like you said, But I can’t see Yoast in the given options. Also I already have Premium SEO Pack installed, But that also is not in the given options. Can you please help me? I’ve been looking for a way for to install yoast for a while, but had no success yet.

  30. Dear Syed Balkhi,,

    I have gone through this post, it was splendid. I have a doubt you are showing meta robots in index. where as shoutmeloud shows it as noindex.

    Since both the blogs are authority blogs for the world, how do we come to a conclusion with these two variations?

  31. Yes, This was in deed a great information. I have few doubts on Nofollow,no index Etc., those were cleared with your post.

  32. Perhaps you should reconsider your objection to the bulk editor in tools. You can edit titles and descriptions of your posts and pages without having to go into the editor for each page. This saves you a lot of time when entering titles and meta descriptions.

  33. Hi, thesis 2 won’t work with the plugin – is there another you now recommend? Thanks in advance

  34. Hi WPB,
    Really helpful post,
    Google Analytics is the best website/monitering tool by Google.
    Thanks for this Post.

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