Every site owner and blogger wants their content to rank highly in the search engines for key terms. A lot of that has to do with the quality of the content, how well it’s optimized and how many other well ranking sites think it’s worth linking to.

google rankings

photo credit: Ken Lund via photopin cc

But, from a WordPress technical standpoint one of the most important elements is a hardworking plugin.

The hardest working plugin in my WordPress set up is the WordPress SEO Plugin from Yoast. While there are thousands of plugins for WordPress this is one of the few that I deem a must.

This plugin does so many good things related to running a healthy site and achieving higher rankings that it’s a bit limiting to simply label it an SEO plugin.

SEO basics

The function that most might be familiar with is the ability to customize many of the elements that search engines use to determine page content on a post by post and page by page case. Instead of the default WordPress on page optimization the SEO plugin gives you the ability to change title, keyword and description meta data. Couple that with keyword friendly URLs and image descriptions and you’ve got on page factors pretty nailed. (More on page ranking factors here)


What some may not know is that the SEO plugin is also your best option for producing sitemaps that make it easier for search engines to find all of your content and interact with new content in the best possible manner. For new sites this may be how your content gets discovered in the first place. For larger more established sites this is how your new content gets indexed in a matter of minutes. Another great thing about having sitemaps in the SEO plugin is that if you set a page to no index your sitemaps knows it too!

If you have not claimed your Google Webmaster and Bing Webmaster accounts and submitted your sitemaps to each this is another mandatory step. First, you’ll be sure they are receiving your updates immediately and you’ll find a lot of useful data on how they see your site along with any issues they find.

Duplicate content

One the cool thing about WordPress is that you can sort by things like date, category and tag. The net effect of all these option however is that your archives create lots of duplicate content and the search engines have grown increasingly fussy about that. It’s not that Google penalizes you for this, it just means you don’t have control over which version they throw to the top of your results. Using the Titles and Meta settings in the plugin you can choose to disable your date based archives and set subpages to no index.

Scrapers love

This is a little thing but Yoast adds a way for you to easily insert some text and links into the RSS feed for your content. This way those silly scrapers of content will have a line about where the content originated and a link leading the search engines back to your site as the original author.


Since SEO and social are so thoroughly connected why not make it easy to add Google+ authorship and Facebook OGP data. This way your images show up in Facebook along with the title and description you’ve chosen instead of the default first few words when you post and once you link your author content to your Google+ profile using the SEO plugin Google will start to attribute all of your content more accurately. (I wrote about Google Authority here)

For a full explanation and tutorial check out the last word on the plugin from the author.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • I’m a huge fan of the Yoast plugin, including how it’s user-friendly and easy to configure search terms for blog posts.

    • Thanks Mark – plus he does such a great job keeping it up to date!

  • Steven K Dale

    Rankings are great, but you must know if your site will pull in leads. Too many biz owners think if their site is at the top they will sell more stuff. Not true. Your site also need to convert! Test Test test

    • Yes of course Steven – that’s the real game, but take it piece by piece!

    • Joshua Cary

      Steven – that is EXACTLY what I always tell my industry. It’s one thing to land in the results, but the other side of the SEO coin is to create a website that gets them to take action (convert). If they don’t, all ranking effort is for naught. And yes, John, as you know, the entire SEO puzzle can become quite overwhelming to business owners. The trick is feeding it in bite size, digestible nuggets.

  • If I’m not mistaken John, you have mentioned you work with Scribe. Does this plugin integrate with it as it does WP?

    • Hey Jeff – yes it does in fact Copyblogger recommends this plug in – Scribe then takes over and gives content and linking advice.

      • Excellent – I’ll give it a try. Thanks

  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    Thanks John this is really a very helpful piece of information as I am not very well versed with Yoast plugin. I will surely give it a try.

  • The Digital Agenda

    As a professional website developer in Miami, I use this SEO plugin on many websites. It works great with wordpress and I have been happy with the SEO analysis I receive. http://www.thedigitalagenda.net

  • This is an excellent plug-in from Yoast, easy to use and gives you control over so many on page things important in ranking which often get missed.

  • I love the page analysis tab, people should use that for extra on-page optimization. Very good advice on that tab to improve your seo..

  • This plugin is so amazing I still can’t believe it’s free! I make sure all my clients are using it because it’s just so handy and takes care of so much of on-site optimization.

    You only touched on it briefly, but the tips the plugin gives when optimizing individual posts and pages is a huge help. Even if you already know SEO, it’s great to make sure you’re not overlooking anything like the meta description or customizing your post/page URL.

    • Titojankowski

      Wow, I’ve been using “All In One SEO Pack” for years. Anyone tried both? Wondering if I should switch my sites to Yoast.

      • I switch to Yoast from All in One SEO a few years ago. I just found Yoast to be more comprehensive and user-friendly. Try it out and see what you think.

  • I’m using this plugin on all my WordPress blogs..and the only thing i wanna say it’s just amazing plugin. Joost has done great work. Now, there is no need of the plugin like Google XML Sitemap And Robot Meta Tags as now this plugin supports it.

    • Yep and it handles all the Facebook OGP stuff too!

  • social media and blog commenting is vital in seo because off page leads rank.

  • Thanks for the great instructions John! I think you will also be interested in Adam Binder’s advice on increasing SEO rankings with a WordPress theme. It’s hot on our blog: