WordPress Tips for Small Businesses: Part 2 – Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin
Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress
If you have ever looked into SEO plugins for your WordPress installation, chances are you have come across Yoast at some point. While their free plugin is aimed at entry level developers who don’t have much experience with SEO, it is a great tool for small business owners who need a powerful tool to handle their SEO without dedicating hours upon hours of time to do so.
After you’ve installed the WordPress SEO Plugin you should notice a new label on your left-hand control panel towards the bottom that is named “SEO”. I’ve gone ahead and outlined it red where I found it within my WordPress installation – it should be pretty close to yours.
Once you are inside the SEO area of the plugin, take a quick look around – there’s probably a lot of stuff that you may not be familiar with. I recommend taking the tour to familiarize yourself with the basic concepts as we won’t be covering every topic in this part of the tutorial. The first area of interest that we need to look at regards linking up the various webmaster tools we have available to us.
The Yoast plugin is kind enough to automatically link up your WordPress installation with all of your webmaster tool accounts, plus your Pinterest account and Alexa if you are using that as well. If you have already verified your website with the respective webmaster tools account you can skip this step and move onto the “Titles & Metas” area
The first thing that we are going to worry about in this section is the title separator. If you’re unsure what the title separator is referring to, take a look at the title of your website in your web browser- you’ll probably notice that it looks something like: Suit Factory – Quality Suits, Custom Tailored!
It is general practice to use a single hyphen as the title separator and I would highly recommend using it as well. If you insist on going against the grain, Yoast offers a variety of options to choose from.
The next item on our agenda regards sitewide meta settings. For a majority of small business websites the default settings can be used and there is no need to change what is already in place. If you’re curious, do a quick query for DMOZ, it will probably remind you of the golden ages of the internet and all of its glory. Additionally, for most users the clean-ups can be left to their default states.
A sitemap is exactly what it sounds like – a map to the navigation structure of your website that search engines use to crawl through the pages and posts you have within your site. The WordPress SEO plugin gives us a wide array options we can choose from to tweak or sitemap, so let’s start from the beginning
The first thing we need to do is to make sure that XML Sitemap checkbox is selected at the top. This ensures that the navigation structure we just talked about is published and available for viewing by search engines such that they can easily index your website. The next item, User Sitemap, comes selected by default and is best left as it is – it removes the threads from whatever authors and users have commented and posted on from the sitemap as these comments (generally speaking) don’t provide much authoritative information to a website
A handy feature of the Yoast plugin is that it will automatically ping Google and Bing, letting them know that you have posted new content to the internet and they should come and check it out so that it is indexed within their search engines. Yoast also gives you the option to ping Yahoo! And Ask.com, which you should really take advantage of because even though a smaller percentage of search traffic comes from these engines they are very much worth targeting as you will be missing out on potential viewers without them. So, with that being said, go ahead and check both of the checkboxes to make sure they are alerted of your new content.
The next area is going to ask what sections of your website you do not wish to include in your sitemap. More than likely, your list of available options is going to look much different than mine depending on what type of theme you have installed. Noting the image a few paragraphs above, you can see that the only option I have checked is “Media” as the pictures and videos on our websites aren’t very relevant to the structure of websites. But, there may be times where you would like try to keep certain parts of your website from being crawled. For example, you may have a section of your website where you host blank service forms for your clients to download that you will directly guide them to if needed. If that’s the case, that may be a reason to exclude that section from your sitemap.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with Yoast’s SEO Plugin it is time to move onto the next item on our agenda – speeding up your website! In part 3 of this 4 chapter guide we discuss how to use WordPress Super Cache to serve pages to your viewers even quicker than before!