WordPress SEO by Yoast is one of most popular WordPress Plugins for SEO out there – and for a very good reason. Installing and properly configuring the Yoast SEO plugin will very quickly “fix” some of the “out of the box” SEO problems that WordPress creates on a new install. Setting up Yoast can be a bit daunting for some photographers, so this blog post on how to set up WordPress SEO by Yoast should help you get started.
We’ll go through each of the settings pages and I’ll show you how I configure my photography websites.
Yoast WordPress SEO – General Settings Screen
Tracking – you can switch this on or off this is purely to help Yoast develop their software by sending anonymous data from your installation.
Security – If you are the only person using this site make sure this option is NOT ticked to ensure the full functionality of the plugin throughout your site.
For Google the verification data you are looking for is from the “Alternate” Verification method – select HTML Tag and then copy the CONTENT field of Meta name tag which will look something like this:-
<meta name=”google-site-verification” content=”PRDwdR0MRCgKDDwWHktaeTvDK97hoCVPLX1CAA80HJo” /> (obviously your code will be different)
i.e. copy this bit: PRDwdR0MRCgKDDwWHktaeTvDK97hoCVPLX1CAA80HJo and paste it into the Google Webmaster Tools field in Yoast.
For Bing it is similar and will look something like this:-
<meta name=”msvalidate.01″ content=”C78D795FFF1B0712ED25809C1A81FFFF” />
Again you just need to copy the content field i.e. C78D795FFF1B0712ED25809C1A81FFFF into the Bing Webmaster Tools field.
You should also add your site to the Alexa database (if nothing else it’s another free backlink). Go to Alexa.com create a free account, add your site details and then “Claim your site” using the verification ID method – paste this verification ID into the Alexa field on Yoast.
Yoast WordPress SEO – Titles & Metas – General
This is fairly straightforward – my settings are as shown below:-
N.B. If your “Force Rewrite” is ticked – just leave it ticked. RSD Links are special links on your blog to allow integration with other third parties which can auto-post to your site – if this means nothing you can safely hide this. WLW stands for Windows Live Write and again if you don’t use Windows Live Write you can hide that as well.
Yoast WordPress SEO – Titles & Metas – Home
Homepage Title Template – This is one of the most important fields in Yoast – put your main keyword that you want to rank for in here followed by your site title (e.g. Portrait Photographer in Cambridge – John Doe Photography)
Meta Description Template – This will show up in the Google Search listings, it should be readable but also include your main keywords. Keep it to 156 characters maximum.
N.B. If you have modified your WordPress settings to show a Static Page as your home page (which I recommend) – you will see an alternative screen like this:-
Just follow those two links and set a SEO Title and Meta description in the Yoast Settings area for your home page (your main keyword) and your blog page (for your secondary keyword). You’ll find the Yoast Settings at the bottom of the Edit Screen, below where you would type the content of your blog post or page.
Yoast WordPress SEO – Titles & Metas – Post Types
“Posts” are your actual blog posts which you generally want to target for “long tail keywords” – so we use the “title” of the blog post here. “Pages” are generally for more static content on your site and I generally target my secondary keywords to those pages, so I also include my company name (or website title) to associate my company with those keywords. You can use the %sitename% parameter here (which is the name of your website as setup in WordPress General Settings) OR you can just type your company / business name here (e.g. %%title%% | Alan Hutchison Photography). The rest of the settings on this page can be left at their defaults.
Yoast WordPress SEO – Titles & Metas – Taxonomies
Taxonomies – what a wonderful word LOL My settings on these pages are set just like this:-
Yoast WordPress SEO – Titles & Metas – Other
The rest of my settings on this section are as follows:-
Now those are the key settings in Yoast that you need to setup to improve the SEO performance of your photography website.
Other key screens to configure are:-
Yoast WordPress SEO – Social
In here you can configure your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts – All of these are important but the key one for SEO is the Google+ account – make sure you have Google Authorship enabled and make sure the “Author for homepage” is setup. You can find out how to enable Google Authorship on your photography website here.
Yoast WordPress SEO – XML Sitemaps
XML Sitemaps help Google keep up to date with the content of your site and ensure your content is indexed regularly. This is another important area of Yoast and once you configure this and an XML Sitemap has been created you should go back to your Google and Bing Webmaster tools and add those sitemaps to your setup there.
The additional settings pages – Permalinks, Internal Links and RSS can generally left at their default settings. If your theme supports it and you don’t mind the untidiness of “Bread Crumb” links on your pages, it is a good thing to “Enable Breadcrumbs” on the Internal Links screen.
So there you have it. Those are the basic fundamentals of configuring Yoast on your photography website. Please let me know in the comments if you disagree with any of my settings or have any other suggestions or tips.
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P.S. If you haven’t already done so – why not register for a free account on PhotoProSEO.com and we’ll send you monthly hints and tips on SEO, Marketing and WordPress – you will also get access to our full WordPress training course. If you really want a march on your competitors download our 54 page ebook on SEO for Photographers – The Insider Secrets Your Competitors Don’t Want You To Know.