Search engine optimization is a technique of improving your site’s performance in the search results. You may have wonderful content but it is of no use without people viewing it. Search engines are the simple way to reach out interested audience for promoting your content. Besides organic search engines like Google, nowadays social media sites also have their own search engines taking bigger role in content promotion.
Optimizing your WordPress site for both organic and social media search engines is relatively an easy task with tons of plugins available for each individual topic like XML Sitemap generation, Webmaster tools verification and social sharing.
WordPress and SEO
WordPress by default offers a search engine friendly platform for building sites compared to most of the other site builders. In addition there are plenty of free and premium SEO plugins available for optimizing a WordPress site. Searching for “SEO” will results in 1000+ active plugins on WordPress plugins repository and finding out the outstanding one for your site is not an easy task.
Some plugins offer minimum features while some offers a power pack with all kind of SEO related features.
Why Yoast SESO?
Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is one of the most simple and effective plugins to improve ranking on search engines especially on Google. We are using this for years and recommend giving it a try. In this article, we will discuss the features of Yoast WordPress SEO plugin which outsmarts other plugins for the following reasons:
- Yoast SEO plugin offers a packaged solution to boost your WordPress site right from the content building.
- One of the popular plugin with more than 5 million active installs.
- It’s a free plugin with most advanced features required for improving your site’s search performance.
- Updated regularly based on user reported issues and search engine updates. Yoast quickly updates the features as per Google and stands out from other plugins like All in One SEO.
- Webmaster tools verification and XML Sitemap options are very handy without the need of additional plugins.
- On editor optimization allows users to check and correct the mistakes even before publishing the post.
- Enable open graph for social sharing allows you to share the posts with attractive images.
Features of Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin
Once installed and activated the plugin will add a new menu item called “SEO” with the following sub-sections.
- Search Appearance
The plugin will also add a menu in the top admin toolbar with the name “SEO” which you can remove from the “General” settings section. After installation, you can follow the initial setup wizard and change the settings later from the plugin’s settings page.
General settings have the following features under different tabs:
Dashboard – check the SEO status of your site in dashboard section. You can find notifications and errors here.
Features – this is an important section of the plugin where you can enable or disable the plugin features.
- SEO and Readability analysis – show or hide the SEO / readability analysis meta box in post editor.
- Cornerstone content – you can mark a post or page as a cornerstone content to filter important articles from the post/page list. Cornerstone helps you to publish a fresh article with a list of old articles. This will help you to regenerate traffic to old posts.
- Text link counter – enable this to find the links on each posts on the post/page index page.
- XML Sitemaps – enable or disable Yoast XML Sitemap on your site.
- Ryte integration – enable to frequently check whether your site in indexable from search engines.
- Admin bar menu – show or hide the menu on top admin bar.
- Security – no advanced settings for authors – enable this to disable advanced plugin settings for authors.
Webmaster Tools – Verify your site with Alexa, Bing, Google and Yandex by entering the meta tag here.
Search appearance section allows you customize how you want your site to show in Google search results.
- General – here you can provide a title separator that is visible on search engines between page and site title. Also, provide details for Google Knowledge Graph like whether the site represents a person or organization with name and logo.
- Content Types – here you can find all post types on your site and enable/disable the options to show in search results, show date in meta description and hide the meta box in post editor.
- Media – enable “Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself?” option. This will help users to land on the content page when they click the images from search engines instead of seeing the media attachment page that only shows the image.
- Taxonomies – customize whether you want to show or hide taxonomies like category and tags in search results. You can also customize permalinks option to remove the word “category” from URLs.
- Archives – enable or disable archives for date and authors.
- Breadcrumbs – setup breadcrumbs options, however you should add a piece of code in single.php or relevant theme file to show breadcrumb.
- RSS – Customize RSS feed by adding unique parameters to show that you are the owner of the content.
You can setup template for default meta tag, meta description and meta robots settings and modify on post editor for individual posts if required.
- Social section allows you add all your social profiles which will be shown in Google knowledge graph.
- Add open graph meta data for Facebook and view insights by adding Facebook admin.
- Insert Twitter card to decide how your posts should look like in Twitter ether as a summary or summary with image.
- Add Pinterest open graph meta and verify your site with Pinterest by adding meta tag.
The meta data decides how your posts look like when shared in respective sites and the profiles will be shown in Google knowledge graph.
- Bulk editor allows you modify post titles and meta descriptions in mass.
- File editor allows you to modify robots.txt and .htaccess file.
- Import and export option allows you download all your SEO settings to use in other plugin or upload SEO data from other plugins to Yoast WordPress SEO plugin.
Extensions offer paid services for optimizing videos, news and local SEO.
Post and Page Level Settings
The beauty of this plugin is definitely not much of the features explained above but the SEO meta box offered on WordPress editor.
This meta box allows you set a focus keyword for the page content and show the SEO status based on the set keyword with detailed “SEO / Readability Analysis”. You can view the snippet exactly how your post will be shown in Google search results to decide the title and meta description length. However, the plugin also has multiple issues and you can checkout the problems with Yoast SEO plugin in this article.
Yoast Gutenberg Blocks
Yoast is one of the first plugins that integrated the features with Gutenberg block editor. The plugin offers How-to and FAQ blocks that will appear beautifully in Google search using how-to and FAQ schemas. In addition, readability and SEO analysis status quickly on the sidebar.
The latest version also allows you to add nofollow and sponsored attributes to hyperlinks within the post editor.
Undoubtedly WordPress SEO plugin works out of the box, one issue we noticed is that the plugin author does not provide support through WordPress.org forum. The forum is managed by volunteer members who may or may not answer your specific queries. So if you are really struck up with this plugin getting support may be a tricky task though we did not face any issues on the sites we used.
- Top SEO plugin for WordPress.
- Updated frequently as per latest changes with Google.
- User friendly and simplified options.
- Too many plugin updates for bug fixing.
- Makes the post editor slow by loading the meta box.
- Too many promotional ads on the settings page.