WordPress is a powerful, extremely popular website building and content management system and Yoast is an incredibly effective tool for SEO. Together, you have a killer combo to help set up your website and company for success. Yoast is a must-have plugin for WordPress, considered an essential resource for preparing the backend SEO on your site. However, most novice users, and sometimes even pro users only take advantage of its basic features, limiting their use to the Setup Wizard and adding in metadata. They aren’t aware of the tremendous power and opportunity of Yoast still left to be realized beyond its basic SEO setup capabilities.
Here we will explore those abilities, discussing 5 other uses of Yoast that you may not have known of before — and show you exactly how to take advantage of them.
1. Add Your Sitemap to the Robots.txt File
So, you may be thinking — wait, what’s a sitemap and also, robots.txt WHAT???? We’re not going to go into too much depth here into the ins and outs of these, so we have linked some great resources below if you want to explore them in further detail. But in a nutshell, it is in your interest to make sure your sitemap is in your robots.txt file, so that the search engines can find your sitemap more easily, which also ultimately helps your site gain ranking in the search engines.
One of the great features of Yoast is that it automatically generates a sitemap for you, so then all you need to do is access it in Yoast, and copy and paste it into your Robots.txt file.
Below, we laid out instructions exactly how to do that:
1. First, locate your sitemap: In Yoast, click on “General.” Then in the “Features” tab, click the “?” next to XML sitemaps. This will open a link to your sitemap. Click “See the XML sitemap, and you guessed it — you will be taken to your sitemap.
2. Copy the URL of your sitemap, which should look something like this: https://URL/sitemap_index.xml
3. Click on “Tools,” then “File editor”, and here you will see your Robots.txt file. (If a Robots.txt file does not yet exist, you can create the file by clicking the “create” button).
4. Clicking “create” will automatically generate a basic line of Robots.txt code. There could be several lines of code if someone already added in more code. Do not change this code, (unless you know what you are doing). Now, let’s skip a line and write in “sitemap,” then copy and paste your sitemap URL. It should look like this:
5.Now save the changes and that’s it — you’re done!
2. Manage Duplicate Content Using the Canonical URL Feature
There can be times when you may need to create content that is similar to already existing pages or posts on your site. The problem is that similar content showing up in two different spots on your site can create a conflict, confusing Google as to which of the two pages to send your website users. This also leads to a ranking issue, making it harder for either of those pages to rank well in the search engines.
So, how do we deal with this problem? Normally, you have two options, and neither of them are too attractive. You could rewrite the content with the aim of making sure the two pages differ enough from each other or set up one of the pages/ posts to not be crawled or indexed by the search engines. But after all your hard work creating awesome content, you want both of those pages to serve you and your audience and be found! Fortunately, there is an alternative solution using canonical tags and Yoast makes this easy to implement.
Using Yoast, to set up your canonical tags, you would first need to figure out which of the similar pages you want to show up in the search engines. This allows you to make sure both pages are still crawled or indexed, but only one page will show up in the search engines.
Yoast has a terrific and easy-to-read article on how to implement canonical URLs.
3. Quickly Edit Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions
There could be times when you may want to make some changes to your brand identity or voice, or maybe you want to go back into some pages, to add/change keywords to further optimize your content and strengthen SEO. It can be a pain to navigate back into each individual page, one by one to make your edits and revisions.
Thankfully, Yoast offers an easy way to see all your meta titles and descriptions at once AND change them quickly with their “Bulk Editor” Feature. Just click on “Tools,” then “Bulk Editor”. The rest is very self-explanatory.
4. Cornerstone Content
Cornerstone content aka evergreen content is key, high-value content on your site that tells the story of the products, services or solutions you offer your audience, helping generate traffic to your site, build brand awareness and establish authority in your industry. It usually consists of 4 or 5 pages/posts that you can choose to tell your story. Think about it as the absolute most important, essential information you want your website users to find.
Yoast offers an easy and effective way to inform the search engines of your cornerstone content — again, the pages on your site that are the most important to you. First, simply navigate to the post/page, then scroll down to Yoast and click on “cornerstone content,” and turn it on. That’s it. BUT remember to not overdo this. The whole point is that it is fundamental content on your site, so it should be kept to 4 or 5 pages.
Here’s a fantastic article that Yoast offers, exploring conrnorstone content in more depth.
5. Yoast Will Add Schema
Not sure what Schema is? Well, don’t worry, as most people actually have no idea either. Simply put, schema is added code that helps the search engines better understand your website and offerings. It can also improve how your search engine listings look to your audience, helping you add images, reviews, star ratings and more. And the best part? When you use the Yoast setup wizard, Yoast will automatically add in some of this schema.
Read here, to learn more about Yoast Schema.