How to Use WordPress SEO by Yoast


This is a getting started guide for people who want to optimize their WordPress sites for search engines. WordPress SEO by Yoast is one of the most popular of all WordPress SEO plugins, having been downloaded over 670,000 times since it’s launch early in 2011.

You can also click here to read our review of another highly popular SEO plugin called All-in-One SEO Pack.

In this tutorial we’re going to introduce you to the WordPress SEO plugin and also show you how to choose settings that will work successfully.

Step 1. Install the WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin

  1. Go to Dashboard
  2. Plugins
  3. Add New
  4. Search for WordPress SEO by Yoast
  5. Click Install Now

After you activate the plug-in, you will see a new menu section on the Dashboard for managing your SEO.

Step 2. Go to the SEO Dashboard


Yoast WordPress is pretty cool in that it really won’t let you make a mistake. It will warn you and give you a quick Fix it button, so you can start off on the right foot. If you see this message, click Fix It.

Step 3. Set your Permalinks


The Fix It button takes you to your Permalinks Settings page. Choose one of the options that includes %postname% in your permalinks. Alternately you can create a custom structure, and for SEO purposes you want to make sure your hostname is included in the link.

Be sure to save your changes and then go back to the SEO Dashboard.

Step 4. General Settings


This plugin adds a new panel to your post and page editing screens, that allows you to edit the SEO features. The general settings will show or hide parts of the panel.

I checked the meta keywords tag, but you don’ t really need to. No search engines actually use keywords any more. They make a nice note for developers when they are working on the coding of the pages.

If you’re really new at SEO you might want to disable the Advanced part of the SEO meta box, so you can do no harm.

Generally if you don’t check anything in this section you’ll be OK.

Step 5. Verify Your Site with Webmaster Tools


Google, Yahoo! and Bing have tools for monitoring traffic. They also allow you to submit your site to the search engine, and submit a sitemap. So it’s good if you have visited these sites and created an account, and gone through the verification process.

The field titles are links to the services, so just click on the field titles and you can complete this process. When you sign up you are given a choice of verification method. Use a meta tag or download a file that you then place in your home directory. If you choose the meta tag method, you simply copy the meta tag into the appropriate field.

If you’re already verified and have used the download method, you don’t have to do anything here. Or if you find the meta tag method confusing, use the download method instead.

Step 6. Set the Page Titles


Your choice on this section depends on your template. When in doubt, click Force rewrite titles.

To check the title tag in your template to see if it matches:
Go to Appearance > Editor > choose header.php from the right column.ook at the code and search for the

If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, click Force rewrite titles, which will be the easiest thing to do. Changing that simple tag sounds easy, but below is the code for the title tag in the 2011 theme. The tag, and how to change it isn’t always obvious. Only change this if you really know what you’re doing.


Some themes will work perfectly with this plugin. Others would need modification or the “Force” method.

Step 7. Set the Title Templates for Singular Pages


You can create two types of templates here, static and dynamic. To create a static template, type in exactly what you want. You might want to use a static template on the home page or a landing page. It depends on your SEO objectives.

Step 8. Create Dynamic Title Templates


Dynamic templates are created from the page and post entries themselves, and will change as you change content. A long list of variables is included at the bottom of the page, in a panel titled “Help on Title Settings” to help you build your variable templates. You will want to consult this before creating the templates.

Post, page and attachment templates


Here are some examples of common setups. Go through the entire section and set up templates for each type.

Note that you can also combine text and variables in the same field. The “-” in the title template field is text so it’s easier to read on the site.

You could also do something like this:
%%title%% – Brought to you by %%name%%, SEO Expert

Category template


Instead of including the excerpt or caption, we are getting the meta description from the category description. If you haven’t written descriptions for all the categories, this is a good reason to get into the habit. Take your time and write good descriptions and use good SEO practices.

Post tag template


Author Archives template


Date Archives template


If you leave any section blank, there is a default template that will be used. The Date Archives default template is perfectly adequate, so we can skip this one.

Search pages template


404 error page template


You can combine static text with variables.

Also note that all these templates can be overwritten when you create the post or page. These are now the defaults, and if you don’t specify anything when you create the entry, these templates supply the tags.

Step 9. Indexation


The first thing you see at the top of the Indexation section is a checkbox to toggle the verbose explanations of each of the settings below. Check it and the advice disappears, un check it and it all the descriptions come back. That’s all it does.

Facebook OpenGraph


You get this information from Facebook. If you don’t have any idea what this is it won’t hurt to leave it blank. Before you fill it in, learn all you need from Facebook’s documentation.

Indexation Rules


These are the suggested settings for the No Index Rules. You’ve may be familiar with nofollow rules in robots.txt files. This isn’t like that. These rules do not stop a spider from following links on the page, they just won’t index that particular page, but the will follow the links to other pages that do need to be indexed.

There’s no reason for a search engine to index a registration page, a search page, a shopping cart page or other pages of a similar kind.

Nofollow Settings


You will want to restrict some pages with nofollow. A searchbot spends only so much time on a site with each visit, following links on unnecessary pages dilutes your page strength for the important pages. So check all the boxes in this section.

Archive Settings


If you are running a single author blog, you can disable the author archives. If you have a multi-author blog, don’t check it.

Don’t disable the data-based archives unless you don’t show the archives on your site at all. If you check this it will completely disable the archives and they will not be viewable by the public.

Robots Settings


Don’t mess with this unless you are a total expert. If you’re a novice skip it entirely.

Clean up settings


Most of the cleanup is handled by default functions of the plug-in. These are the only optional choices you get to make. You might consider checking the second and third boxes if you use a remote editor or Windows Live Writer. Other than that nothing here needs to be checked.

Step 10. The XML Sitemap


Check the box to make all the options visible.


By default, the plug-in does everything for you. Optionally you can have it submit your sitemap to Yahoo! and as well as Google and Bing. If you have webmaster accounts there, check the boxes.

The rest of the form is about things you don’t want to include on site maps. If you’re a beginner and the site is small, you don’t need to worry about excluding anything. You need to study up on sitemaps as you get more experienced./

You don’t need any other XML sitemap plugins if you are using this one.

Step 11. Adjust the Yoast Permalinks settings


We already set the basic WordPress Permalinks. These settings only concern the permalinks created by the Yoast plug-in.

Strip the category base.
By default WP adds /category/ inside each permalink it creates. Checking this stops that from happening. The only time using this could be a problem is if a category name and a title might be the same. If you don’t have a specific reason for preventing this, don’t check the box.

Enforce a trailing slash on all category tag URL’s
You probably want this to happen. So check this box.

Redirect attachment URL’s to parent post URL
Check this one. Word press essentially creates a new post for the image, search engines may find the url to the image only post. This will redirect them back to the parent page so the full page gets indexed and followed.

Redirect Ugly URL’s
Sometimes people link to shortened urls or feedburner links. This redirects those links to your main URL


You don’t need to do anything in these two sections for now. When you’ve fully explored SEO and are a pro at Google Webmaster and Analytics tools, you can revisit these section.

Step 12. Using Breadcrumbs


Breadcrumbs are great for navigation and for SEO. Your theme needs to support breadcrumbs though. If it does, you can add some configuration to the breadcrumb section.

Use ASCII in the separator field. For example > will put a “greater than” bracket between each breadcrumb link like this
Home > Category > Subcategory. You can use any separator you want.


If you know about modifying themes, the author includes a code snippet you can use here to add breadcrumbs to a theme.

Step 13. Foil Scrapers


I don’t mean spatulas for cleaning thin sheets of metal, I mean take the advantage away from data thieves.

People can take your original material and have it appear on their site as if it is their own. This feature will make sure you get a link back to your site, and the the material is properly credited to you.

You can actually get pretty creative here. You could put advertisements and affiliate links in here and generate some income as well.

The plugin uses variables to allow you to create a template. You can mix html, text and variables in the same message.

Step 14. Import and Export


As a beginner, you don’t need this section, but once you’ve got a winning formula, you might want to duplicate it on other sites. Or if you’ve done some SEO with other plugins and are changing plugins, you might want to pull the settings into this plug-in.

Unless it applies to you, you don’t need to do anything here.

You’re finished! You can now add SEO features to each page and post


Now there is a new section in your editing page that lets you set up SEO for each individual article. If you are putting this into an existing blog, you could have a big job ahead of you, but it won’t be so bad if you’re new and just adding content and optimizing as you go along.

This is a getting started guide, and is meant to help you get this feature installed and working right away. There is an entire industry based just on SEO and a lot more to learn. As you keep learning, you’ll be able to come back here and make decisions to fine tune your performance.


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Sean Cook

Could you compare/contrast these with Yoast?





Hi and welcome, Sean!

That’s a good question! We would love to get into a discussion with you on this. If you are a student at [url=][/url], please log into the support forum ([url=]…[/url] and post the question in there, so that one of our support techs can look into it for you. If you’re not a student, I hope you’ll consider becoming one, so that we can give you the attention you deserve. You can find out more about our online class at [url=][/url]

Kind regards,


Sean Cook

# iowawebco

Thanks, but I have done some research and I like what has been said about Yoast, so I am going to go with it and tell you how things turn out. I will definitely check out the support forums! 😉


You’re always welcome! Cheers Sean! 🙂

Kind regards,



Hello there! Firstly, thank you for such a descriptive guide! I have a practical question for you. Can I change the SEO keywords I’ve set on a page through Yoast’s plugin after my website has been online for a month? Would that be very bad? I would like to narrow down the focus keyword, so I need to alter it a bit.


Hi and welcome, Triantafyllos!

You’re welcome for the guide! 🙂 Yes, you can change it even after a month or more.

No, for that short of a period of time you won’t see any bad effects, and in the long term you’ll be way better off.

Kind regards,



🙂 tks!


I am loving this tutorial. Only problem, is that when I get to the step 6-9 (Titles and metas) the menus in my wordpress are blank (i.e. there are no settings/fields visible). Any idea why or where they went and how to get them back?

Nizam Khan

Indeed and excellent and clear guide, it is really helpful. Thanks for sharing 🙂


I have a problem: Content Encoding Error. The page you are trying to view can not be shown Because it uses an invalid or unsupported form of compression. After installing the plugin yoast


This totally screwed up my site. I had to hit the back button over and over just to get to where I could reset all the settings and fix my website. I also noticed while doing this that the plugin has been updated and no longer matches this guide.

Bibin Varghese

I just installed latest yoast seo plug-in Version and I can’t find the robots.txt editor in the File menu. I only have the .htaccess file editor.

My robot.txt only showing

User-agent: *

Disallow: /wp-admin/

Disallow: /wp-includes/

When i check [url=]…[/url]

What to do????plz help me

Tenzin Phuljung

Hi, great post, but I am still confused. I have some questions. How do I disable archives completely so that it doesn’t show on google?

Its been two weeks since i started the blog and I had a space between my title so it was “Tenz ed” instead of “tenzed”. So i recently changed it to “tenzed” but now I only see the homepage on google. However, if i google “tenz ed” with the space, then I get a bunch of my blog posts and mainly those annoying archives. I tried all the forums but I couldn’t solve the problem. I hope someone could help me here. Thanks.


I wish to say that this post is amazing, great written and include approximately all vitar information. I read some articles for wordpress SEO on all over the internet. But every website have different idea for wordpress SEO.


Thanks, but I have done some research and I like what has been said about Yoast, so I am going to go with it and tell you how things turn out. I will definitely check out the support forums [url=][/url]

NuttyCloud Admin

Thanks for the long and detailed post on Yoast Plug-in however this is very old one when compare with the latest ones. There are many settings got changed and new options added. if you have any new post on this new plugin, please share – thanks NuttyCloud admin


Yoast SEO is a WordPress plug-in designed to help you improve some of the most important on-page SEO factors–even if you aren’t experienced with Web development and SEO. This plug-in takes care of everything from setting up your meta titles and descriptions to creating a sitemap. Yoast even helps you tackle the more complex tasks like editing your robots.txt and .htaccess.

Some of the settings may seem a little complex if you’re new to SEO and WordPress, but Yoast created a complete tutorial to help you get everything set up. And the team at WPBeginner made this handy video to help you get set up quickly.

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