How to Customize Yoast SEO Plugin for Your Therapy Website
We build all of our websites on WordPress for a number of reasons.
- It allows us to provide websites for our clients at an extremely affordable cost.
- It is super user-friendly. If our clients decide they want to make changes to their site themselves, they generally don’t need to learn complicated coding to do so (we show them how to make those changes, but lifetime support is included so we can handle those changes too).
- It is easy to integrate with third party applications and tool to improve the functionality of the site and maintain the website’s overall health.
One of our favorite plugins that we use on our clients’ websites is Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin. We configured these settings for each of our clients, but here’s a basic overview of how to do it yourself…
How to Configure the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin
Once you’ve downloaded the plugin and activated it on your site, there’s a bit of work to do to setup the plugin so that it is functioning correctly for your website. Below are some of the settings we recommend:
Titles & Meta: General Settings
Begin with the Titles & Metas section and go to the General tab found on the top of that page. Check the “Force rewrite titles” box and check all the boxes under the “Clean up the <head>” section. This helps avoid title issues caused by some WordPress themes and helps clear out some of the unnecessary information in the header coding of your website to make searching and indexing your site easier for search engines.
Titles & Meta: Taxonomies Settings
Next, click the “Taxonomies” tab and check the “noindex, follow” box under Tags. This prevents search engines from indexing the page on your site that is a list of blog tags (low quality and potential duplicate content issues).
I know, I know–You love using tags. The problem is, tags on WordPress, if used without a comprehensive strategy, can cause a lot of duplicate content and SEO issues.
What we always recommend is using Tags OR Categories. Generally, we recommend categories over tags because by default people tend to put more thought into their category topics, whereas tags tend to be a stream of consciousness activity. This can cause a lot of bloat on your website and create Tag pages that are relevant for single words, as opposed to detailed topics.
If we lost you here, just trust us: Use categories over tags and follow the image instructions above.
Titles & Meta: Other Settings
In the Other tab, check the “noindex, follow” boxes for Author Archives and Date Archives. Again, this helps avoid duplicate content and low quality pages.
If you’re blogging regularly (2+ times per week), go ahead and keep the Date Archives indexable. But if you’re only blogging 1-2 times per month, the Date Archives will just cause extra bloat on your website and create lower quality pages that don’t contain much content.
If your blog is written by a single author (you don’t have pages setup for other contributors), check the “Disable the author archives” box as well.
Next in the sidebar menu, navigate to XML Sitemaps. Sitemaps are essentially a roadmap to guide search engine crawlers to the various parts of your site so that they can quickly determine what it’s about and how to categorize it and rank it in search results.
WordPress automatically alters Google and Bing to crawl your website after you’ve added new content, but you will have to check the Ping Yahoo! and Ping Ask.com to allow it to do the same for those search engines.
Then, check the same boxes under post types and taxonomies that you noindexed in the previous sections.
Under “Permalinks” check Enforce a trailing slash, Remove stop words from slugs, Redirect attachment URLs, and Remove ?replytocom. All of these settings help search engines more easily crawl your site, and help clean up your URLs so that they don’t get too long and tedious.
Using Yoast SEO When Writing a New Blog Post or Website Page
After you’ve configured your SEO settings, the real fun begins! Yoast SEO is a great tool for helping you write unique meta titles and descriptions for each page. Not only are these helpful for search engines to index your website and determine what it’s about, but they show up in Google searches to show your audience what your site is about (this is what we’re talking about when we say we write all those important tags for you as part of our service).
Your website will AUTOMATICALLY populate your meta title with whatever your page title is + whatever your website name is. And it will AUTOMATICALLY populate your meta description with the first 156 characters of text from that page or post.
Sometimes this works out, but often you’re missing out on important keywords that could better describe your page, which is why writing your own meta titles and descriptions is a good idea.
Once Yoast SEO is installed on your site, you will notice this box appear underneath the content box when you edit a post or page. This is where you will write your own meta titles and descriptions.
So how do you write these yourself? With some practice and patience and these tips:
- Your meta title should be no longer than 70 characters (but try to use as much of that space as possible)
- Your meta description should be no longer than 156 characters (again, use as much of that space as you can)
- Think of keywords and location keywords people might be searching to find you
- Take all those filler words and phrases and see if you can cut them out and still have a paragraph or sentence that makes sense.
Example of Meta Titles and Descriptions
For this example, we’re going to use the Approach & Services page from the lovely Ashley Taggart’s new website.
Her automatic meta title would be: “Approach & Services – Ashley Taggart”
Her automatic meta description would be: “Ashley’s approach to psychotherapy is based in object relations and attachment theory – meaning she places particular focus on identifying the historical ex” (the first 156 characters on that page)
From an SEO perspective, this is okay if you’re searching “Ashley Taggart” or even “Ashley Taggart psychotherapy,” but in most cases, potential clients won’t already know her name, they’ll be searching for the type of service they need in their area (note: whether they actually use a location keyword or not in their search, Google will automatically match results with the location they’re searching from).
So here’s how we rewrote these meta tags for Ashley…
Meta Title: “Psychotherapy Approach & Services in Palo Alto, CA | 94301″
Meta Description: “Ashley Taggart provides psychotherapy services in Palo Alto, CA for individuals, couples & families to break destructive patterns for healthier associations“
Now this page is targeting the following keywords:
- psychotherapy palo alto
- couples psychotherapy Palo Alto
- break destructive patterns California
- psychotherapy services California
- family psychotherapy Palo Alto
It takes some practice to write effective meta titles and descriptions using Yoast SEO, but luckily our clients enjoy it hassle-free because we handwrite each of these meta tags using our SEO expertise when we build you a new therapy website. Contact us today to hear how you can get a beautiful new website that will also improve your search engine rankings.