WordPress SEO by Yoast is without a doubt one of, if not the best, SEO plugin for WordPress. Here’s a quick set up guide for after you’ve installed the plugin to your WordPress site. The following steps are not all you should do with the Yoast plugin, but it’s a start so that things are ready to go:

Change Your Permalinks Settings

Your permalinks settings should be changed so that you are using a “custom structure” under Common settings. The structure used should be: /%postname%/. It is also worth changing your Category and Tag base while you’re there. Change them to something relevant so that the structure in your URL is nicer. Instead of using the words category and tag it will use the phrase you add as your base.

Use meta keywords tag

This is a topic that has varied opinions on. Meta keywords have very little, if any, value when it comes to today’s SEO. However, I still feel it’s worth adding 2 or 3 phrases as it’s a quick process and just another indication to search engines about what your site is about, even if they will ignore it in most cases.

Titles Settings

Make sure you modify the title script in your your header.php file through the Appearance Editor to be as follows: <?php wp_title(”); ?>. Once you have changed this setting add your Homepage Title and Meta Data. Set up your Post and Page Titles as follows: %%title%% | Site Name. Adding your site name at the end of the page title should be constant across your site, as it is a valuable branding tool within the SERPS to assist in improving your CTR and driving direct traffic to your site.

XML Sitemaps

Check the box to enable XML sitemap functionality. This will be important for managing your site in Webmaster Tools and submitting your sitemap to search engines. Check the boxes to: Add images to XML Sitemap, Ping Google, Ping Bing, Ping Yahoo, Ping Ask.com. Don’t exclude pages or posts (unless you have a valid reason). If you’re theme framework is identified there, it may be worth excluding that from the sitemap. Finally, I like to exclude Post Tags in order to avoid duplicate content issues. I ensure that each post only falls under one category.

There’s a quick guide to setting up WordPress SEO by Yoast. With heaps of other features, ensure you check out all the settings available in Yoast and tweak as necessary for the best performance.