Yoast SEO Guide (2018): Best Plugin on the Market

Without this Yoast SEO guide, you can kiss your SEO efforts goodbye. We at Four Peaks SEO live and breathe the Yoast SEO plugin and its evolution. What is Yoast SEO? Check out this neat little quote from the creators themselves:

Need some help with your search engine optimization? Need an SEO plugin that helps you reach for the stars? Yoast SEO is the original WordPress SEO plugin since 2008. It is the favorite tool of millions of users, ranging from the bakery around the corner to some of the most popular sites on the planet. With Yoast SEO, you get a solid toolset that helps you aim for that number one spot in the search results. Yoast SEO for everyone. Yoast SEO does everything in its power to please both visitors and search engine spiders.


  • The most advanced XML Sitemaps functionality at the push of a button.
  • Full control over site breadcrumbs: add a piece of code and you’re good to go.
  • Set canonical URLs to avoid duplicate content. Never have to worry about Google penalties again.
  • Title and meta description templating for better branding and consistent snippets in the search results.
  • [Premium] Expand Yoast SEO with the News SEO, Video SEO, Local SEO and WooCommerce SEO extensions.
  • [Premium] Need help? Yoast SEO Premium users get 1 year free access to our awesome support team.


  • Content & SEO analysis: Invaluable tools to write SEO-friendly texts.
  • The snippet preview shows you how your post or page will look in the search results – even on mobile. Yoast SEO Premium even has social media previews!
  • [Premium] The Insights tool shows you what your text focuses on so you can keep your article in line with your keywords.
  • [Premium] Multiple focus keywords: Optimize your article for synonyms and related keywords.
  • [Premium] Automatic internal linking suggestions: write your article and get automatic suggested posts to link to.


  • Yoast SEO tunes the engine of your site so you can work on creating great content.
  • Our cornerstone content and internal linking features help you optimize your site structure in a breeze.
  • Integrates with Google Search Console: See how your site performs in the search engines and fix crawl errors.
  • Manage SEO roles: Give your colleagues access to specific sections of the Yoast SEO plugin.
  • Bulk editor: Make large-scale edits to your site.
  • [Premium] Social previews to manage the way your page is shared on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
  • [Premium] Redirect manager: It keeps your site healthy by easily redirecting errors from Google Search Console, deleted pages and changed URLs.

Yoast SEO Guide Setup

In your WordPress Dashboard, click the “Plugins” tab on the left-hand side. On the next screen, choose “Add New”, similar to the “New Page” function. By default, the “Akismet” and “Hello Dolly” plugins are installed but those two can be deleted if you choose. I recommend deleting them for cache storage sake.

Image of Yoast SEO Plugin Definitive Guide - Four Peaks SEO

On the next screen, you should see a “Search Plugins” field on the right-hand side. Type in “Yoast SEO” into that search bar and a list of suggested plugins will be provided. Click “Install Now” on the plugin highlighted by the red box. View the image below for reference:

After clicking on “Install Now”, click the same button again when it says “Activate”. You will be redirected back to the Installed Plugins screen after activating the plugin. Once the plugin has been activated, click the “Settings” option.

In the “First-time SEO configuration” field, choose the “configuration wizard” option. The configuration wizard should now look like this:

Choose the purple “Configure Yoast SEO” button to start the configuration wizard.

Environment: Choose “Option A” for now.

Site Type: Choose “A small offline business” or whichever best suits your company type.

Company or Person: Choose “Company” and enter the name of the company. You can upload a company logo here or you can do it later – your choice.

Social Profiles: Self-explanatory – Enter in the URL’s for any company social media accounts.

Search Engine Visibility: I recommend changing only the “Projects” option to No.

Multiple Authors: Leave as default “No” for now.

Google Search Console: We can ignore this for now.

Title Settings: I recommend leaving as default as shown until later.

Newsletters: We can ignore this for now.

Keep clicking next to ignore the next sections until you get to the “Close” button. After hitting the “close” button, you’ll be redirected back to your WordPress Dashboard, specifically the SEO Plugin tab.

Yoast SEO Plugin Features

Let’s continue setting up your Yoast SEO plugin. Next to “Dashboard” is “Features”. You can enable or disable a few features from this list. By clicking the question mark next to each feature, you can learn what each one does. For now, leave each one as “On”.

Yoast SEO Plugin Webmaster Tools

Arguably the most important section for this plugin is the “Webmaster Tools” section. You can use the boxes below to verify with the different Webmaster Tools. This feature will add a verification meta tag on your home page. If your site is already verified, you can just forget about these. Since this one isn’t, let’s go ahead and verify it.

Before we do anything with this section, let’s first set up your Google Analytics account. Once you have set up your Google Analytics account, let’s continue.

Yoast SEO Plugin Google Search Console Setup

After you have completed setting up your Google Analytics account, navigate back to the Webmaster Tools section in your Yoast SEO plugin. In the Google verification code area, click the “Google Search Console” link; a new tab will open in your browser.

Choose the “Google Analytics” option and click the red “Verify” button. After clicking the button, your screen should look like the image below:

Yoast SEO Plugin Google Search Console Setup Continued

After verifying your account, click the “Search Console” sub-tab in your SEO Plugin tab on the left hand side in your WordPress Dashboard.

Click the “Get Google Authorization Code” tab. A popup window will appear. Choose the email address associated with these accounts. On the next screen, click “Allow”.

A code will appear in the next screen. Copy and Paste that code into the “Authentication” field.

On the next screen, choose the “profile” or URL the code will belong to from the dropdown menu and click “Save Profile”. View the image below as reference:

That’s it for the Yoast SEO Plugin setup!

Easy, right? Very easy! You can navigate through all of the settings in the plugin and change them to what suits your website best.

Putting It All Into Perspective

Time to kick it up a notch: BAM! After your plugins have been set up, let’s head on over to our Pages tab. Once inside, hover your mouse pointer over the “Home” page link and you’ll find a few options appear: Edit, Quick Edit, Trash, and View. Here’s where the real fun begins.

For this example, I’m just going to add more “Lorem Ipsum” text, or more commonly referred to as “dummy text” on the front end of the website. Here’s how the Yoast SEO plugin looks on the “backend”:

The Metadata fields describe how your page will look in the search results. Changing the SEO title, Slug, and Meta Description will greatly benefit your SEO efforts if done properly.

Below is a prime example of how the fields should be filled out:

The “slug” is the URL extension containing the desired keyword for that page. For example, if you are wanting to rank your company “SEO Services” page, you would write a slug reflecting your SEO services i.e. “url.com/seo-services-phoenix/” would be entered into the slug as “SEO-services-phoenix”. Keep in mind: the slug must also match the focus keyword. Let’s take a look at the Yoast Analysis from our lorem ipsum example.

Each link in each suggestion is a link to a specific suggestion page on the Yoast website. Read them. They’re useful if you’re stuck. Some of the suggestions are quite clear and often self-explanatory. Let’s take a look at some that are just not clear enough nor self-explanatory….like internal and outbound links. What are they?

Internal vs Outbound/External Links

So, internal and outbound links. What are they? Simply put, internal links are links embedded on a specific page linking to another page on your site. Outbound links are the exact opposite. Outbound links, or “External links”, are links embedded on a specific page linking to someone else’s website or to a relevant website of your own.

Internal and Outbound/External Links are the most simplest, and easiest, forms of an SEO strategy commonly referred to as “Link Building”.

For best link building practices, it’s a rule of thumb (sort of) to have a 3:1 ratio for internal and external links, respectively. Meaning, there should always be 3 internal links and 3 external links (total of 6 links) per one page.

When Google crawls these pages periodically, the bots need to know where to go next. Having a well laid out link ratio helps with that. And if the content it is linking to is both relevant and of high-quality, the more “link juice” you’ll receive as a result. Ultimately, search engines, over time, begin to recognize your website as a whole as an “authority” for whatever the website topic may be about and begin ranking your website higher. This increases your “domain authority” and “PageRank” in the end. If the content you’re looking to is not relevant or high-quality, search engines will begin devaluing that page and inevitably your entire domain until it is resolved.

Yoast Analysis Overview

Let’s took a look at how we analyzed the previous information and “greenlit” it across the board for the standard analysis. I’ll go into more depth about each section.

Not bad, huh? Scroll to the next page to learn how I was able to get these results.

Focus Keyword in First Paragraph of the Copy: The focus keyword must always appear in the H1 tag for each page. Not only that, it must be within the first paragraph following the H1 tag.

Keyword Density: There is no hard science behind keyword density but through testing, a rule of thumb (sort of) says it should be between 1-3%. Never ever do “keyword stuffing”.

Meta Description Contains the Focus Keyword: The keyword(s) in the focus keyword section must always be included in the meta description and must read naturally. Meta Description length must be in the “green”.

Focus Keyword in Subheadings: There’s no guide on how much this must be performed. If it at least appears once in a subheading i.e. H2 or H3 tag, then you should be fine.

Content-Length: Must always be 300 words or more in order to prevent the search engines deeming it as “thin content”. However, if your content is high-quality and valuable both to the reader, then 300 words or less can rank well.

Link Ratio: Must follow the 3:1 ratio previously discussed i.e. 3 internal links and 3 outbound/external links. If you are using social media links and/or links that may not be relevant, use a “nofollow” tag (more on that later).

SEO Title and Length: Always have the focus keyword in the title of the page. Follow the “green” marker for length.

Never Used Keyword Before: Always use a specific keyword for a specific page. Never, under any circumstances, use the same keyword for another page.

Quick SEO Tip: Never use “stop words” in your focus keywords. There is much debate behind why you should not use stop words but often times, depending on the desired keyword(s), you can get away with this. Learn more about stop words.


Follow these steps in the Yoast SEO guide above and I’m sure you will have great success navigating the Yoast SEO plugin.

Thank you for enjoying my Yoast SEO Guide.

Do you have any tips to add?

Let me know in the comments!

Want to learn more about XML Sitemaps, Headings, Image SEO, and More?

Download the “Super Simple SEO for Small Businesses” guide today!

Further Reading:

“Ultimate SEO Checklist for Small Businesses” “Why SEO is Important for Small Businesses” “What to Look for in an SEO-Friendly Hosting Company”