How to Quickly Set up and Configure Yoast SEO in WordPress

Yoast SEO is the most popular WordPress search engine optimization plugin, with over 5+ million active installations. Chances are, if you're optimizing a WordPress site for search engines, you've heard of Yoast!

No matter whether you're new or have been using it for some time, this guide will help you quickly set up and configure Yoast SEO for the best results. Also, we have a valuable tip for owners of online stores using Earth Girl web hosting services.

In this post, you'll learn the basics of the Yoast free plugin interface and how to configure the most important settings.


3 reasons why Yoast SEO is a must-have WP plugin

Yoast SEO is a freemium plugin that offers many benefits for your WordPress website. Freemium means that you get to use lots of its features for free, but to use its paid features, you would have to pay for the premium version.

Not only does it optimize your pages and posts for search engines, but it also makes your content more readable and scannable for people. It performs like an SEO expert, even if you have no experience with SEO.

So, here are three main benefits that make it a must-have WordPress plugin:

  1. Offer optimization guidance: Yoast's analysis helps you write better-optimized titles, descriptions, and content with readability in mind. It catches errors so your work is polished.
  2. Improve search engine rankings: Yoast handles technical SEO like metadata, XML sitemaps, canonical URLs, and more. These behind-the-scenes features can boost how well search engines understand and index your pages.
  3. Integrate with social sharing: Social media is key for traffic, and Yoast makes it easy to integrate sharing buttons and optimize your content for social success.


Getting started with Yoast SEO

Once you've installed the plugin, you will see a welcome screen with a link called "Start first-time configuration." Clicking on the link will help you to configure Yoast SEO to get the best performance in a step-by-step process.




First-time configuration consists of four different steps, including:

1. SEO Data Optimization: Yoast SEO automatically scans your website for indexable posts and pages. It's like a Google bot crawling your site. So, wait for the scan to complete, and remember it might take some time if there is lots of content on your website.




2. Site Representation: This step asks for your website's name, organization, and logo. It lets Google and search engines gain a deeper understanding of your website and increases the chance of it getting featured in search results.




3. Social Profiles: Next, you can add your social media profiles like Facebook or X (Twitter) to enrich your visibility in search engines.




4. Personal Preferences: Using this step, you can subscribe to the Yoast SEO newsletter and allow it to collect anonymous site data for plugin improvement purposes. If you don't want to do the final step, you can skip it.


Connect your site to Google and Bing

NOTE: If you have already connected your website to these tools, skip this step.

Getting your site connected to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools should be a priority.

This will improve your website's search result performance and indexing of your pages or posts on search engines.

By navigating to your WordPress dashboard > Yoast SEO > Settings > General > Site connections, you can add verification meta tags for Google, Bing, Yandex, Baidu, and Pinterest. We suggest having your website's presence everywhere. The more visibility, the more potential traffic.




Click on the link under each input field to find the verification codes. You can get a meta tag code here if this is your first time connecting. To learn more, read Yoast SEO's site connection guide.

Once you're done, click Save Changes.


Configure Yoast SEO for your posts and pages

When you're writing new blog posts or pages, Yoast can help you out right in the editing area and determine how they will appear in search engine results or social media. Its tools will check how readable your content is and how well it's structured.

In this section, we’ll check the fields you need to configure before publishing your content in WordPress.


Focus keyphrase

Yoast SEO's Focus keyphrase is the keyword Yoast can use to help people find your content. This used to be called focus keyword. Pick something someone might search for that best describes your topic.

Keyword density in your content should be between 0.5% and 3%. To calculate keyword density, Yoast divides the number of keyphrases by the total number of words.

For example, if your content has 1000 words and you use the keyword 4 times in total, Yoast will tell you to add one more keyphrase to reach 0.5% and get the green bullet.

The first step to configure Yoast SEO for posts and pages is to add your focus keyphrase in the following field shown in the image below:




A small tip: You do not need to capitalize (uppercase) the focus keyphrase as Yoast and search engines don't look for that.


Search appearance

This section shows how your content will appear in search engine results. There are three fields to configure Yoast SEO for search appearance: SEO title, slug, and meta description.


SEO title

It is the title of your post that shows up when someone finds your post online or in search results. Yoast automatically generates a suggestion based on your keyphrase, but it is better to tweak it for optimal performance.

The best title length is between 50 to 60 characters (400 to 500 pixels). As long as you keep your title within this range, you’ll see a green bar under your title in Yoast.

When you exceed 70 characters, the title bar turns red, and when you use a title with fewer than 40 characters, it turns orange.

Make sure your keyphrase is at the front - that helps grab attention. But it also needs to feel natural, not like it's just keyword stuffing.




The slug is like the filename for your post's URL. It impacts how well search engines and Yoast itself can understand your content.

Your slug input should only include lowercase letters, numbers, and hyphens - no spaces or other special characters.

Also, as a rule of thumb, it's recommended not to add a year number to your slug, since you can update the year in your SEO title later, but changing your slug will result in 404 errors for your website and you'd then have to resort to creating redirects.


Meta description

The meta description is a short snippet under your post title on search engine results. It gives people an idea of what your post is about.

When writing your meta description, aim to include the keyphrase and what someone will learn.

Keep it between 110 to 140 characters so search engines don't cut it off, and you’ll get a green bar from Yoast.

The meta description can you usually be written and re-written in various ways, so test a few versions to see which one best fits and take the time to perfect it for the best chance of attracting new readers to your post.


SEO analysis

To identify problems and improve your content, you should use the provided SEO analysis section for each post and page.

The following metrics can be found in the SEO analysis results:

  • Keyphrase distribution
  • Keyphrase in subheading
  • Keyphrase in introduction
  • Outbound links
  • Image Keyphrase
  • Images
  • Internal links
  • Keyphrase density
  • Keyphrase in SEO title
  • Keyphrase length
  • Keyphrase in meta description
  • Meta description length
  • Previously used keyphrase
  • Keyphrase in slug
  • Text length
  • SEO title width

You'll be able to get a green SEO status if most of the parameters are met.



As you can see above, there are 13 good results, 1 area for improvement, and 2 problems listed, but the overall SEO status is green.


Canonical URL

To fully configure Yoast SEO, you should also consider the canonical URL. You can find this field under Advanced > Canonical URL.

Search engines don't like seeing essentially the same page with different addresses. Yoast allows you to specify the "canonical" or main URL for a page or post. This tells search engines which version should be indexed if duplicate or similar copies exist.



For example, if you set the following URL as your canonical:

Google will only index that address and ignore similar addresses like:

You can help improve your site's SEO ranking by properly setting up canonical URLs.


Content readability analysis

Yoast's readability analysis gives insights into how understandable your content is. It looks at factors like word length, sentence structure, and writing style to gauge a readability score.

The word limit alone can sometimes prevent you from getting a green mark for readability, but analyzing the results to solve problems and improve is something you can learn from.



Social media appearance

Have you noticed that when you share an article or product link on social networks, it also shows its picture and title? Most likely, yes! You can set how to show them using Yoast SEO.

However, many website owners, bloggers, authors, and editors don't pay attention to properly configuring Yoast SEO for social media and forget to provide social titles, descriptions, and images.

This is why you should always take care to configure the social appearance settings in Yoast, found in the Social tab, under Social image:

1. It helps optimize your content for sharing on platforms like Facebook, X (Twitter), and more.
2. Google bots can consider social titles and descriptions as the main metadata. So, if you forget to fill these fields in Yoast, your content may be negatively affected.


Note that the social share preview is a premium-only feature but the rest can be used by anyone.


Configure Yoast SEO for online stores

If you have a site that has lots of products, it can be very difficult to make them all SEO-optimized. Therefore, it is recommended to focus on optimizing the category pages and create strong content for these pages based on standard SEO techniques.

Besides this method, you can learn about 7 top SEO practices for your ecommerce.

From your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Posts >Categories and open each of your categories.

Then, set the following fields, as explained earlier, for posts and pages to gain a green SEO status for each category:

  • Focus keyphrase
  • SEO title
  • Slug
  • Meta description
  • Canonical URL
  • Social image
  • Social title
  • Social description


Wrap up

This guide covered the basics of configuring Yoast SEO by walking through the first-time configuration wizard and optimizing key settings. You learned how to:

  • Get Yoast SEO set up quickly and easily
  • Connect your site to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools in Yoast
  • Optimize posts, pages, and categories for search with settings like the focus keyword, meta description, and canonical URL
  • Improve content readability and social sharing effectiveness
  • Make use of Yoast's handy analysis tools to spot optimization opportunities

Taking the time to properly configure Yoast SEO gives you insights to refine elements that readers and search engines see first. Continuing to optimize your site according to Yoast's recommendations can help improve your search visibility over time.

About Navid Nekouee

I'm Navid, a happiness ninja and the digital marketing manager at Earth Girl Hosting with years of experience in e-commerce. I am passionate about creating digital marketing strategies integrated with cutting-edge web solutions and enjoy blogging about practical problem-solving approaches in this area.

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