Take the First Step.
The first step to properly using the Yoast SEO settings is to make sure that your site is on a responsible upgrade path. Make sure that you have the most current versions of WordPress, Genesis & Yoast SEO. If you are not on a proper upgrade path you may miss out on the most recent changes. Missing out on those changes will not help your SEO efforts.
Another important first step is to be sure that you have set up your website with Google Search Console. At a very basic level Google Search Console will inform you of any errors that have occurred while crawling your site. If there is an error, that means that there is something that is broken or not working correctly/optimally on your site. Google Search Console will help direct you to the error.
Importance of URLs & Slugs
Your website URLs are a very important aspect of your SEO efforts. Be sure to use real words in your URL not only so users can read it, but search engines want to see real words as well. The slug is the part of the URL that follows your domain name. It is best to use the slug (or part of the slug) that is automatically generated when you create a new page or post.
(Domain: example.com, URL: example.com/test-only, Slug: /test-only)
Yoast SEO Settings
Remember that creating original and unique content is the cornerstone to SEO success. You will also want to make sure that the content is sharable on social channels. Below you will find an outlined screenshot of the Genesis settings. Hopefully this will help you with the technical aspects of the SEO settings.
SEO Title – Also known as the title tag. This is a very important element in SEO settings. What you put here will appear in 2 places: In the Browser tab, on the search results page. It is also usually ideal to have part or all of your actual H1 page title as the title tag. It is best to use a maximum number of 60 characters in the title tag.
Meta Description – The Meta Description may be used by search engines to summarize your post. Keep in mind, if there is a more relevant piece of content in your post, search engines may use another actual piece of your content instead of the meta description that you set. The best practice for this section is to keep your content to 150-160 characters and write compelling copy that would drive users to click on your post.
Focus Keyphrase – It is best to choose 1 focus keyphrase/keyword that is directly related to the content of your post. This is also commonly referenced as the “target keyword/keyphrase”. It is important to identify a focus keyword for each page and post that you optimize for. Ideally you will want to include this in your actual Page title, within the SEO tag, within your content, and within the alt text of an image if applicable.
Redirects – If you have Yoast SEO Pro, you will be able to add redirects yourself. Redirects are necessary when changing a page or post slug after it has been published. This way, people that visit your old URL will be redirected to the new page. If you do not have Yoast SEO Pro, please reach out to your Account Director to let them know what URLs you will be changing before you do so. That way we can grab the old URL and redirect it to the new one on your website server.
Advanced Settings – Customize these settings to tell search engine robots what to do.
- Allow search engines to show this Post in search results? Choosing “no” tells search engines not to index this post (meaning you are asking Google not to show this page in search results). Keep in mind that even if you choose not to index your page, it is still at Google’s discretion to show the page or not.
- Should search engines follow links on this Post? Choosing “no“ tells search engines not to follow links from this page (meaning that you are not vouching for links that leave this page).
- Canonical URL – This is more of an advanced setting that you likely will not use. If you have two places on your site where the same/highly similar content appears, this is the place where you tell search engines which URL is the most important location.