Gini Dietrich

Eleven Steps for Setting Up and Using the Yoast SEO Plugin

By: Gini Dietrich | February 26, 2013 | 

Eleven Steps for Setting Up and Using the Yoast SEO PluginDuring Andy Crestodina’s webinar “The Lies and Truths of Google Analytics” last week, there was a lot of discussion on the Spin Sucks Pro hashtag about Google+ authorship and authority.

A topic that continues to evade many, Andy spent more time answering questions about that at the end than he did on anything else.

As luck would have it, the very same day, Christopher Penn wrote, “How to Set Up Google+ Authorship” and gave you step-by-step directions for using the Yoast SEO plugin on your WordPress site.

While we had already taken the steps to set it up on the Google+ side, as both Andy and Chris noted, we still had to use ?rel=author in every blog post so Google would know what I’ve written vs. one of our guest bloggers.

Kind of a pain, eh (I’ve been around Lindsay Bell too long)?

So I set about to install the Yoast SEO plugin as Christopher suggested, deactivate All-in-One SEO pack, and be on our merry way.

It turns out, it’s not as easy as it seems.

Setting Up and Using the Yoast SEO Plugin

If you were here on Friday, you noticed our title tag said “Untitled” instead of “Spin Sucks.” I was a little stressed out. It turned out, the Yoast SEO plugin wasn’t talking to our code so that had to be fixed by a professional. But, during the process, I learned a lot more about what you can do without breaking the site (and trust me, I thought I had broken it).

  1. Install and activate the Yoast SEO plugin. This is the easiest part. It does all the work for you and you don’t feel like anything you update or change will give you untitled page tags. Yay for the first step!
  2. Open the Yoast dashboard. It looks like this in your sidebar. See the little orange icon? That’s where you’ll click.
    WordPress Sidebar
  3. Set up your general settings. You can take the tour, but it really just explains what each tab is, rather than tell you how to set it up. Click all the buttons you see below. If you want to set up your Webmaster tools, do it here. I’ve chosen not to, but may add it later.
    Yoast Dashboard
  4. Open “Titles and Metas” and make sure you’re on the “general” tab. Click all the boxes you see below and make sure the “use meta keywords tag” button is not clicked. This is because, with the Penguin update, Google no longer counts keywords. Plus, you don’t want to be considered keyword stuffing so it’s safer not to use it.
    Yoast General Settings
  5. Click on the “Home” tab (still in “Titles and Metas”). This is where you’ll add your blog’s title, the meta description, and set up your Google+ authorship. This is where you really have to use your brain so think long and hard about what you want here.
    Yoast Home Settings
  6. Click on the “post types tab” (still in “Titles and Metas”). This pretty much stays the same as the factory settings. Make sure the buttons are clicked and unclicked as shown below. I added “%%excerpt%%” to each meta description template box. I’m not sure you have to do that. You can try both ways.Yoast Post Types Settings
  7. Click on the “taxonomies” tab (still in “Titles and Metas”). This one also stays pretty much the same as the factory settings. I added the “%%excerpt%%” to each meta description template box. Click buttons as you see below.
    Yoast Taxonoies Settings
  8. Click on the “other” tab (still in “Titles and Metas”). The word “archives” is present in the factory settings in this one. Everyone on earth suggests you delete that, so I did. I also added the “%%excerpt%%” to each meta description template box. Click buttons as you see below. I also updated the verbiage for the 404 error page from “Error Found” to something goofy.
    Yoast Other Template
  9. Go back to the orange icon in your sidebar and open “Social.” This is where you can add your fan page and your Twitter handle. You’ll see we don’t have the fan page set up yet because I’m not an administrator and I keep forgetting to ask Yvette Pistorio to do that for me. Maybe she’ll see this and help me out!
    Yoast Social Settings
  10. Go back to the orange icon in your sidebar and open “XML Sitemaps. This one was super helpful for me to actually see what needed to be clicked or not clicked. The screen grab below shows you what to do.
    Yoast XML Settings
  11. Go back to the orange icon in your sidebar and open “Import & Export. I imported both from the All-in-One SEO pack and the OLD one, just in case. Then I went into some old blog posts to make sure the SEO settings were in each of them. Then I went back to “Import & Export” and I clicked “Delete the old data after import.”
    Yoast Import & Export Settings

To get all of this accomplished, I read 12 or 13 blog posts. Every, single one of them suggested not to touch “Permalinks,” “Internal links,” or “RSS,” if you’re not a programmer or developer. While I checked them out, I didn’t add or change anything in them.

Hopefully this helps you if you’re planning to do the same thing. It’ll save you about four hours of pain and agony.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • belllindsay

    Woohoo!! Love posts like this, boss! 😀

    • @belllindsay As you can see by the super late publish time, it took me a looooong time to write it this morning.

      • @ginidietrich  @belllindsay Yoast rules.

      • belllindsay

        @ginidietrich I had my eyeballs on it, considering the few blips we’ve had lately. 🙂

      • @ginidietrich  @belllindsay  Pretty sure I recommended Yoast back when we did the SSP webinar many months ago. If only you’d listened to me then…. #shakeshead 😉

        • @Sean McGinnis  @belllindsay It’s always about you, isn’t it Sean?

        • @ginidietrich  @belllindsay I’ll rephrase. I recall someone else recommending that tool to you several months ago. Kind of surprised it too you that long to give it a try… 😉

  • The best part of posts like this comes in a week when Google changes the rules again. 😉

    • @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes The nice thing about Yoast, though, is they make the changes to the plugin for you. So once it’s set up correctly, you’re pretty safe.

  • Love Yoast. I spent an entire evening one day last year with a glass (bottle) of wine and a split screen going step by step thru the Yoast tutorial. I still don’t know if I have it configured properly all the way. I did however, also install AuthorSure to make sure my authorship was intact. Good post, friend!

    • @KristenDaukas I should have taken your tact. I wanted to pull my hair out.

  • John_Trader1

    Appreciate the tips Gini and thanks again for yoasting, I mean hosting another great webinar last week. Learned a ton from Andy and it was one of the most beneficial webinars I have ever attended. Onward and upward as I bow to the SEO gods!

    • @John_Trader1 During our staff meeting today, I told @belllindsay we have to beat Andy’s webinar in March. No pressure.

  • I’ve been thinking about Yoast for a while now, but we haven’t made the switch from the All-in-One SEO pack yet. I absolutely love posts like this because you have (hopefully) made it easier for me to avoid some of the headaches with making this switch. I missed the webinar, but just grabbed the download. 🙂 I know what I’ll be listening to later! LOL

    • @TaraGeissinger Let me know what you think about the webinar. I thought it was VERY good!

  • Hi Gini… the new T60 website went live yesterday and is WordPress-based, so this comes at a perfect time for me.  I’m going to write a client proposal then get on this right away.
    –Tony Gnau

  • yoast  was also one of the first plugin devs to investigate Google authorship models at length. It’s a lot easier to set up now, but six – eight months ago, it was a lot more complicated. His blog is well-worth a read.

    • @jasonkonopinski  Yes, I know. Which is why I avoided it earlier on (cough, @Sean McGinnis , cough). It was still difficult because I didn’t know what all the %% meant, but now I know!

  • You might want to check the Post Title settings, as your browser title still says “Spin Sucks: Professional Development for PR and Marketing Pros”, as opposed to the actual title of the post itself.

    • @Danny Brown I know…it’s in the hard coding, which is being worked on by our programming team. That goes waaaaay beyond my scope.

      • @ginidietrich Gotcha. You mentioned you’re moving to a new theme soon, make sure not to hard-code any SEO stuff. 🙂

        • @Danny Brown We’re not moving to a new theme – we’re sticking with what we have, but are making design changes.

        • @ginidietrich Will you be implementing responsive?

        • HowieG

          @Danny Brown  @ginidietrich you are moving to

        • jonbuscall

          @ginidietrich  @Danny Brown Build it on Genesis! It’s great code and has the SEO built in including Google Author, custom titles, descriptions and the whole shebang really. It also plays really nicely with the Premise plugin which is great for landing pages because you can marry it with Google Analytics experiments to test what converts better.

        • @jonbuscall  @ginidietrich Amen, Jon! 🙂

        • Ike

          @HowieG  @Danny Brown  @ginidietrich The whole thing is being ported to LiveJournal. Got to love the community features there!

        • @Ike  @HowieG  @ginidietrich I LOVE LIVEJOURNAL!!!

        • @Danny Brown Yes…here and on Spin Sucks Pro.

  • lindalecomte

    Thanks Gini! Tactical help is always valuable. I registered for, but missed, Andy’s webinar. Is a recording available?

    • @lindalecomte Yep! Did you not get an email from @belllindsay last week with the link?

      • belllindsay

        @ginidietrich  @lindalecomte You should have Linda, if you registered. If not, email me at and we’ll get it sorted! 🙂

      • lindalecomte

        @ginidietrich  @belllindsay Perhaps I deleted it. I will email you. Thanks!

  • Thornley Fallis

    We love it!

  • I LOVE Yoast. I use it for a client and it really has improved how I write. I’m more conscious of SEO and even though not all of my clients have the plugin, it’s made me even more mindful when I’m writing other content. I’m no SEO expert, so the plugin has taught me a few things.

    • @yvettepistorio You’re becoming a content expert who knows how to optimize for both humans and robots, though!

  • Steph_Montreuil

    I’m going to echo what others have said here: thanks so much for the step by step!! Am just in the midst of optimizing my site and was reading a ton of stuff. Very grateful that all I had to do was follow your instructions 🙂

    • @Steph_Montreuil Yay! Hi! Glad it was helpful…I figured being able to see it would help.

  • Heather Tweedy

    We love Yoast!

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Just followed your step by step recipe for both of my sites!  Easy-peasy!  Thank you for doing all of the hard work…SO appreciative!!

    • @SocialMediaDDS It was so hard to find any good information so I’m glad this was helpful. Also, your “I’ll bet Gini is hopping for joy” literally made me laugh out loud!

      • @ginidietrich  “Hard to find good information” – *cough* 😉

        • @Danny Brown It was! Even that blog post you sent me didn’t have everything I needed. I combined that (which was one of the most helpful and I told you so!) with four other posts and some professional programming help.

        • @ginidietrich Like R2D2 programming?

        • @Danny Brown More like, “You’re a moron because you don’t know how to code so we’re going to fix it for you.”

  • HowieG

    I am confused. The purpose of this is so when you click ‘publish’ it automatically posts to the various social networks? vs manually loading them?

    • @HowieG Oh Lordy. No…this is for SEO. When you move to and can use plugins like a grown-up, I’ll teach you.

      • HowieG

        @ginidietrich you and @Danny Brown saw my emails with mschechter today I am so far from being a grown up! LOL

  • An EXCELLENT step-by-step guide, Gini! I had already implemented Yoast into my site recently, but there were some settings I hadn’t changed. Thanks for the tips. You’re right – it definitely saved me some additional heartache in trying to figure out what to do with some of those tabs. Well done!

    • @lauraclick As you know, I experienced some challenges. Figured I’d save some people some time if I could.

  • AlexaWebhead

    @DesignSpike Yoast is an awesome SEO plugin, it was very thorough!

  • leyla_a

    @AnneReuss @SpinSucks @ginidietrich my favorite SEO plugin!

    • ginidietrich

      @leyla_a LOL!!

  • I am doing this now!!!

    • @katskrieger You’re like me…shiny new penny and suddenly four hours have gone by, but the blog looks AWESOME!

  • ginidietrich

    @FogelRivka Or even killing it and learning from it. Oy.

    • FogelRivka

      @ginidietrich Yes. I’m switching over to Yoast right now and referencing your post to do it. So, thanks for saving our blog 🙂

      • ginidietrich

        @FogelRivka Good luck with it! Let me know if you run into any snags. I think I found them all when doing it for ours.

        • FogelRivka

          @ginidietrich Definitely. can only imagine: You switch over to a better platform, lose page titles and meta, turn off the computer and cry.

        • ginidietrich

          @FogelRivka Or throw it out the window…

        • FogelRivka

          @ginidietrich The defenestration of the PC, a worldwide event

  • ginidietrich

    @AnneReuss Thanks!

  • Heartfelt thanks.

  • SO SO SO helpful! Yippee!

  • Great tutorial. Love this plugin, and I hear the video one s even better. Waiting until I’m actually creating video regularly to use tat oe though.

    • @Tinu Oh crap. Now I’m going to break Spin Sucks with the video one. Grrrrr.

      • @ginidietrich Just saying, the two together really moved the needle in SEO for the ones using it so far. With the amount of video you do, could put that to work for you. 😉

  • Very useful post Gini. We have to use Seo plugins to obey Google’s rules and try to rank decently and Big G. is so kind that with every update tries to hit those who aim for a better Seo.
    Seems like the Italian government who is the worst enemy of Italian citizens. You see, to try to escape recession and general corruption we had to go with a comedian. 🙂

    • @Andrea T.H.W. LOL! It does sound fairly similar, indeed! Hope you’re well!

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  • Thanks for the callout – don’t forget the Users config for individual authors! That’s how you get contributing authors to lend some of THEIR juice to your site!

    • @cspenn Crap…now I have to figure out how to do that. Just when I thought I’d gotten it all complete. You are my hero and you make me crazy!

  • haronno

    @mdbarber @ginidietrich I’m all for better SEO, but is this plugin and all it’s steps preferable to the all-in-one-seo plugin?

    • ginidietrich

      @haronno I switched from all-in-one and it’s MUCH better. Painful to get setup, though @mdbarber

  • Homes_Boston

    @massrealty @spinsucks too funny I just uploaded that earlier today.

    • massrealty

      @Homes_Boston It is a great plugin!

      • Homes_Boston

        @massrealty need to figure out the sitemap through webmaster tools. I’m looking forward to seeing some increased traffic.

  • stephanhov

    Really helpful tutorial, Gini. I’m a huge fan of Yoast’s plugins. Quick tip for any of you using Genesis, the authorship is built into your Profile page as an added field, and will show up in the < head> tag once you activate it.
    One more tip: once you activate it, there are about 4 more columns that get added to the Posts page in the admin area, and it makes it hard to read your post titles. You can use the Screen Options (little tab on the top right of the page) to take some or all of those columns off the page.

    • @stephanhov Thanks for the tip for Genesis users!

      • stephanhov

        @ginidietrich sure thing; I’m also always surprised how many people don’t know about the Screen Options tab, hopefully that little diddy was useful too, especially for this plugin.

  • Um, is it bad I just noticed you asked me to do something in this post?! I’m on it now…better late than never!

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  • I was searching for more info on setting up the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin and discovered your post. Saved me lots of time, particularly after the default settings didn’t yield optimal results. Having my new site not display properly in Google elevated messing with this plugin to the top of my to do list and now, thankfully, I can move on the other hundreds of things on the list 🙂

    • @patricerutledge It was very painful to set up so I hope this is helpful for you!

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  • JustJSammy

    Thanks Gini, Just what I was looking for. SImple and effective.

  • Karma Bennett

    I have such mixed feelings about this plugin. On the one hand, it has broken three different sites where I have tried it. On the other hand, none of the other SEO plugins seem to offer all of its features. Crossing my fingers and giving it another try.

    PS, as a fellow marketing gal (book publicist) I love your site name!

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  • barellanastasia

    Many thanks Gini !

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  • rodneyhubbard

    Nice and Interesting!
    SEO plugins have become one of the crucial requirements of any website. After all, your work doesn’t end merely with the launch of website! You need to put efforts for achieving significant traffic. SEO plugins are very helpful in this regard as one can easily download them from any WP plugins provider for example Such plugin enables the web master to create XML sitemap that support images. In addition, one can also remove any specific post, post type, page and taxonomy from the sitemap.