Would you like to read my Yoast SEO review and tutorial because I have been using this WordPress plugin for a long time and it will help you improve your SEO?
Yoast SEO Review + Tutorial 2020 — WordPress Plugin Setup + Best Dashboard Performance Settings!
Are you ready to take a look at Yoast SEO in this review and tutorial of the number one WordPress SEO plugin?
SEO, if you are brand new somehow, is Search Engine Optimization.
The basic idea is, you want to rank whatever content you create on your WordPress website in the highest spot possible on Google. Yoast SEO has some very helpful features that will do that. It also has some features that, in my opinion, are not necessary and can slow down your website.
Thus, you will want to see how to use it best to empower you to rank higher in Google search while also not slowing down your website. You can get Yoast SEO, you just search for “Yoast SEO” or you can go to their website at Yoast.com.
You will find it is a free WordPress plugin that you can download. If you want to know what the premium version offers that is really worthwhile. I think the main thing the premium version offers that is worthwhile is being ad free.
You get the support, but you’re probably not going to need that. You can also have the Redirect Manager to automatically create redirects when you change your URLs. I find these two are very helpful premium features, which is why I use the premium version.
All the rest of the core stuff that you really need is in the free version, which means that you can easily use this plugin for free, you don’t need to get the premium version if you’re willing to look at ads.
Once you’ve downloaded the plugin, it is $89 currently if you want to buy it, or you’ve downloaded it for free, this is what it will look like on your website.
When you get it going, it will have these different options on the sidebar. It has general, search appearance, social, tools, premium and redirects.
The main thing I need Yoast SEO to do in my experience using it for years is to submit this site map index. This gives Google an index of all the pages on my website. This is the main thing that I care about that Yoast SEO does.
This means anytime I put a new page up on my website, the sitemap is updated. The sitemap tells Google all the pages on my website according to the rules I’ve set in Yoast SEO, which I’ll go over how to adjust what is included in Google search and what is not.
Yoast SEO makes it very easy to include any particular post or exclude it from Google SEO and to include or exclude entire categories of posts from Yoast SEO sitemap, which then goes to Google. This makes it easy to control what Google’s index is and what isn’t.
This also eliminates the need to ever try to manually submit something to Google because once your sitemap is working correctly, which you set Yoast SEO up and it will do that for you, then you know Google knows exactly what is your website according to what you want Google to see.
The sitemap comes up for me once you’ve got your Webmaster Tools synced up in Google, once you’ve verified your website with Google in your Google Webmaster Tools, which Yoast SEO has a box where you can easily just do that.
You click on “Webmaster tools.”
I haven’t used this box because I already verified mine with Google Webmaster Tools directly. You can just put this Google verification code in directly here. You can also do it for Baidu, Bing and Yandex, then hit “Save changes.”
This will verify you for all of those different webmaster tools. Maybe it’d be worth my time to verify with these other search engines because I get almost all my traffic from Google. However, these other search engines do have traffic and most webmasters like me probably don’t bother giving them the sitemap.
However, maybe they find it on their own. Maybe it’s worth doing. This is a key step you need to take to verify your webmaster tools, so that this sitemap is submitted.
That’s the main thing you want to do with your Yoast SEO plugin. Once you’ve got that done, most of the other stuff is extra. Most of the other stuff can help you with SEO, but really, if you’re writing posts that are truly helpful and you’ve thought of putting the keywords in the title and you’ve written a detailed post out with helpful content, and you share that on your social media, you don’t need to go in and analyze all the keywords and look at all these other insights Yoast offers you.
This is the dashboard on Yoast SEO. It doesn’t have any problems or notifications.
Here are the features.
Now I’ll show you my features because I recently just turned a lot of these off.
One downside of using Yoast SEO is that it can take a lot of extra resources on your WordPress dashboard, and I personally can’t stand when the WordPress dashboard goes slow given I’ve got a website that has a lot of functionality already, including online courses with LearnDash, WooCommerce for all my eCommerce transactions and forums with bbPress along with Yoast SEO and performance optimization plugins.
I don’t want a bunch of extra stuff going on on my website that I don’t use. For this reason, I’ve turned off most of Yoast SEO functions except for the sitemap and the Ryte integration, especially things like the “Admin bar,” I don’t need the SEO bar on every single page when I’m in the dashboard.
I also turned off the security because I’m the only author that’s publishing on my website, I’ve turned off the SEO analysis, the readability analysis, cornerstone content, link counter insights and links suggestion because I don’t need these.
My friend Michel writes all the posts and he does a great job on the SEO best practices himself. If you’re new to writing, if you’re new to having a WordPress website, you might want to turn some of these on because they can help you learn how to write your posts.
Let’s take a look inside the post and see what Yoast SEO adds. Yoast SEO adds, if you are using the Gutenberg editor or the classic editor, this will only be on this page. If you’re using something like a page builder, it won’t be on there.
If you’re using Yoast SEO, you will see this little tab down here. It gives you your mobile snippet and your desktop snippet.
If you turn some of these other features on, you will see there are a lot more options and I initially did use those options. It would tell you about how many keywords, you can put your focus keyword in and how well your page is ranking.
This doesn’t seem to be that necessary, in my opinion, because if you write a really helpful post and you’ve just put the keywords in the title and in the URL, and make a post that has lots of images and detail to it and you have a fast website, it will rank great in Google and you don’t need all of those other features.
If you are trying super hard and putting a bunch of effort into those other features and it’s not ranking, you need to revisit your content strategy. You can edit the snippet, which is helpful in here, especially if you’ve got a page that’s ranking very high, you can go specifically edit what you want things to look like.
In Google, for example, I could edit the name of the post here. I could take a look and edit specific parts of the snippet to try to get my click through rates up.
This is a very helpful feature on top posts, although sometimes, if you edit one of your top posts and it’s doing well, you can actually make it worse.
I often use a “I might as well just leave it” philosophy and focus on content creation.
That said, you can go through here and modify your exact snippet, which I have done on many pages before to help you get the highest click through in Google search.
Google does have its own discretion and depending on what the person has searched for, may or may not actually follow what you submit in the snippet here. The most important things to do when you’re setting up is to make sure you’ve got the name of your page related strongly to the keywords, and I like using a video on the top as well.
That helps reduce the number of people who click back immediately, which is a negative signal to Google for the user experience, and it helps people stay with me on and join my YouTube channel and watch more of my videos.
I use the video to create the blog post, and as you see this post is very detailed. It’s got a lot of text in it. The more details you have in a post, the more opportunity you have to rank for keywords that aren’t actually in the title that you weren’t even trying to focus on.
Yoast SEO can help you see how many words your post is, which can be helpful if you use things like the readability analysis, the SEO analysis and the insights. You can see how long your post is, which can give you a good idea of what depth there is to it.
I like posts that are a thousand plus words because these tend to rank well in Google. I know that if I make a 10-minute video and transcribe that into a post, it’s going to be a lot over a thousand words. You can also use things like link suggestions to give you ideas of what other pages you can link to on your website.
You can use the text link counter to see how many links you’ve got. The cornerstone content is for your very top posts on your website. You can mark those as cornerstone content.
I just use Google Analytics to see what those are anyway and they change over time. I’ll give you some other pointers you can use to work most effectively with Yoast SEO.
This is the “General” tab in the settings we’ve looked at, you can take a look at the search appearance. The search appearance is where you decide what you actually want to appear in Google. That means when you have posts, when you’ve got pages, when you have other functionality like courses, you can decide which of these you want to appear in Google.
You can decide whether you want the Yoast SEO box on for that. What I’ve done is, you definitely want to include your posts in search results.
You want to include your pages in search results. I have just left everything else. The default here on things like Forums, I definitely want those in search results on topics where people make replies, I want those in search results.
However, I have turned off a few things like I don’t need my single Elementor templates necessarily in there, but just in case I don’t understand how that works, I’ll leave that on.
My WooCommerce products, I’ve got that on. My courses, I definitely want my online course in search results. However, I don’t want my LearnDash lessons in search results. I just turned this off because these are URLs that aren’t publicly accessible, you have to have bought the course on my website in order to watch the lesson.
Therefore, why would I want something that is in a LearnDash lesson that can’t be publicly viewed in search results?
Therefore, I’ve turned that one off and I don’t need the Yoast SEO metadata box on those pages either because that’s simply adding more things to load on my website, which means slower loading. I don’t need to do SEO optimization when I’m putting up a lesson because that’s only viewable to people who are signed into my website and have bought a course anyway.
On the topics, that is for LearnDash as well. I can tell you I don’t need these in search results either. I don’t need the metabox on that. I don’t need quizzes. I don’t need my certificates in search results. I don’t need any of these things from LearnDash in search results like submitted essays. I don’t do any of these in my courses.
Therefore, I turn all of these off and hit “Save.”
That removes them from being included in my sitemap and sets “no index” on it, which is telling Google, “Look, we don’t want this in search results.”
That’s good because you don’t want a bunch of low quality pages in your search results. Those won’t provide a good user experience, and I’ve heard in the SEO world that one of the ways you can raise up your ranking is to get rid of all these low quality pages on your website.
Think about it this way, if Google sees that there’s one good page on your website and a hundred low quality pages on your website, how do you think your overall reputation looks to Google?
Wouldn’t it look better if you took the hundred low quality pages off and just did really good at one thing?
This Yoast SEO plugin is very effective in allowing you to make those kinds of edits. You can go into more settings and take this into a higher level of detail like I have “Media & attachment URLs” set to on.
However, I’ve turned off my posts categories. I don’t want my archives of a bunch of different posts showing in search results because this slows down my website, and while it technically brings a small amount of search traffic, it’s a mess if you actually land on the page.
Those pages have full-length blog posts on them, and don’t accurately give a good idea of what’s on the page. For example, if you search for some obscure keyword and three of my posts on an archive matched those exact keywords and bring someone to a page, then they’re not getting what they’re really looking for.
They’re getting a mess of a bunch of different posts and I can’t stand when I go to something like that myself, which is why I turn off categories in search results. I turn off tags in search results for the same reason. I’ve turned off post format. I’ve turned topic tags off.
I do have my product categories on if someone wants to search and find all the services or online courses up, that is worth offering, and I’ve got the tags on for WooCommerce.
However, I’ve taken these out of search results. I don’t need my course categories in search results either or my course tags, my lesson categories or my lesson tags. I also don’t need the topic tags in here in search results.
I use this to keep my website focused on just putting things in search results that are truly helpful and taking out the redundant or unnecessary extras.
I have “Author Archives” on here. You can see the different posts I’ve written. That’s the only kind of archives I put in search results.
You can put date archives. I put those in, so people can see what date things are written in. I have breadcrumbs disabled because I don’t see that that’s necessary.
On the RSS, you can manage your RSS feed right here.
Then that takes care of the “Search Appearance” tab on Yoast SEO.
You’ve also got a “Social” tab where you can choose whether you want open graph data. I do have the Twitter card turned on.
It’s not necessary for Facebook and already’s working anyway, and Pinterest, it is working just fine on Pinterest as well.
If you go over here into “Tools,” you can import and export. You’ve got a file editor, a bulk editor. I haven’t used any of these before.
You can analyze your content for internal links if you want to.
One last area of Yoast SEO that’s really helpful is the redirects. Your WordPress host may have these themselves. However, Yoast SEO makes this a lot easier.
For example, if you delete a post on your website, Yoast SEO will automatically help you redirect it. That way, if you had that post in search results and you delete it because you wrote a new post or because you created a new page, you can then redirect people to that new page.
This will help anyone who’s got the old link to go to that page, and it will help Google to know if it was sending search results to a different page that you now deleted, and you should go to the new page. It will help Google know this is a new page people should go to.
If you change the URL, this also creates an automatic redirect, which is annoying sometimes because if you’ve just created a page, then you switch the URL right after you created it, you don’t need a redirect 2 seconds after you just created something. In that case, you can just hit undo and it will take that unnecessary redirect off.
If you’ve got Yoast SEO on and you’ve played around, and you’ve had your website up for years, you’ve consistently deleted pages and had redirects, sometimes you will find that Yoast SEO redirects is why your pages are working weird.
For example, I had an error with WooCommerce where every time I went to my website.com/cart it kept redirecting me to the homepage automatically. That got really annoying until I realized that Yoast SEO from four years before when I had used WooCommerce and deleted it, had created a redirect from Jerrybayfield.com/cart to Jerrybanfield.com.
Once I deleted the redirect in Yoast, then all the WooCommerce default pages work just fine. That was really annoying to try to figure that out. Thus, you want to make sure you realize that when you’re using Yoast SEO, it’s automatically creating redirects when you delete stuff.
You want to check your redirects from time to time, to make sure there’s nothing on here that shouldn’t be on here, that you have your redirects going where they should go and that they’re genuinely helpful, and not causing any issues or just on there for no reason.
I cleaned up my redirects a few times and now I’ve got things working much better on my website. This can be very helpful to know and I’m grateful for the chance to talk about these with you.
You’ve now got a good overview and review of the Yoast SEO plugin.
I’m very grateful this plugin makes it so easy for me to get indexed in Google search when I make a new post or when someone makes a post on my forums, when I publish a new course or new product on my website.
It handles all that. It’s an outstanding free plugin and that why it’s the number one plugin. However, it has some features that can slow down your website, which won’t be a problem if you’re just using this plugin and not a whole bunch of others.
However, the more plugins you use, the more you want to make sure you’re not using anything unnecessary in the plugin.
Yoast SEO occasionally can conflict with some other plugins. If you suspect there might be a conflict, you can just disable the plugin to see if it fixes the conflict. If it doesn’t, then you can just turn it back on and it’ll work just fine.
Thank you very much for watching all this and learning about Yoast SEO with me.
I hope this is helpful.
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Edits from video transcript by Michel Gerard.