Beginner’s Guide to using Yoast with WooCommerce

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If you’re a new store owner, or managing a WooCommerce store for the first time, you may find SEO plugins a little complicated. They tend to use words that seem like a foreign or alien language. I mean, what are XML sitemaps and why should you care about them? What on earth are rich snippets?

The goal is for your products to rank high on Google search results. But how can you use Yoast to get there? This article will help. We’ll walk you through the necessary configurations and the best ways to optimise your site for SEO.

TL;DR: Yoast has a WordPress SEO plugin and a premium WooCommerce extension plugin. To use the WooCommerce one, you’ll need to first install the WordPress one. Once you’ve done that, configure them to suit the information on your site. Then, set up a schedule to maintain your SEO daily. Even a few minutes every day will reap huge benefits. As an aside, make sure to backup your site with BlogVault before making any major changes, so if anything goes wrong you can restore your site in minutes. 

Keeping a site optimised for search engines is a list of tasks that are performed on every new page. These tasks are designed to accurately describe your product and site. This is because Google uses bots and not humans to crawl your site. Crawl is a cool word for going through your site and indexing the information. 

Installing Yoast SEO for WooCommerce

There are two plugins that are required to make the most out of Yoast’s SEO features for WooCommerce. You have to install the Yoast SEO plugin and the Yoast WooCommerce extension. Here are the steps to do so:

  • Download the Yoast SEO plugin: Go to the Yoast website and choose from either the free version or invest $99 USD a year for their premium plugin. The premium version offers some additional features like more learning courses and early software updates. But, no matter which you choose, download the zip folder.
  • Download the Yoast WooCommerce plugin: The WooCommerce plugin is available for $79 a year. Once you buy it, download the plugin’s zip folder.
  • Upload one of the plugins: Go to your WordPress admin dashboard and hover over Plugins in the sidebar. Click Add New and then click Upload Plugin. Then, click Choose File and pick one of the two zip folders you just downloaded.
  • Install and activate: Click Install and Activate to be able to start using the plugin.
  • Upload and activate the other plugin: Repeat the same process again. Upload, install, and activate the other plugin.

You’re now ready to start configuring the two plugins.

How to configure Yoast SEO for your WooCommerce site?

There is a lot you can customise with Yoast but this section will walk you through our top recommendations for great SEO. We always recommend exploring settings by going to Yoast SEO in the sidebar and clicking General. You’ll notice different tabs and we’ll walk you through the important ones. Let’s get configuring!

Start first-time configuration

Always important to start at the beginning. This tab has all the settings to give Yoast the information it needs to understand your store. Later, you will see that insights from the plugin become pertinent to your particular store. 

  • SEO data optimisation: Turn the whole thing on. This is the absolute first thing to do, and it enables Yoast SEO to analyse your site. It provides indexables that help with technical SEO optimization. Indexables analyse your site, organise the content, remove and bugs and send that information to search engines very quickly. 
  • Site representation: In this tab, you add more details about your site like the name of the organisation and logo.
  • Social profiles: Here you can add the links to your social media.
  • Personal preferences: This is where you can either allow or disallow Yoast SEO from being able to track your site. This setting has nothing to do with SEO, but is usage data collected by Yoast to improve their product. It is entirely your call to toggle it on or off.
  • Finish configuration: Click Register now! and let Yoast get started. Let’s move onto the Webmaster Tools tab.

Webmaster tools

SEO experts often use SEO plugins in partnership with other tools to analyse and watch their traffic. This is where you integrate those tools. Add verification links to Google Search Console, Baidu, Yandex, or Bing. We recommend you sync with the Google Search Console at the very least. Create an account and then head to your Console’s dashboard. Then click Settings and copy the verification code. Next, paste it back in the corresponding field on your WordPress admin dashboard.

WooCommerce SEO

This is where you optimise your site for your WooCommerce store. You need Yoast’s WooCommerce SEO plugin for this tab to appear. Let’s walk through each section and talk about what you can do.

Product attributes

This is a section where you add information about your products like the pattern and material. It helps the plugin understand what you’re selling and adds these attributes to the schema. Schema is basically vocabulary that helps Google understand your page. There is a globally accepted dictionary of these codes available at Schema.org and Yoast uses it to describe your site.

Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are a navigation tool that helps customers and bots figure out which page they are on, in relation to the rest of the site structure. Here’s an image of what we mean.

(image)

You can enable it in the Breadcrumbs section of the WooCommerce SEO tab. It is an underappreciated tool for anchoring site visitors on your website, and making sure they don’t bounce off because they get lost or confused. 

Admin

This section allows you to decide whether you want to move the Yoast section on the product page. You can configure it to be above or below the WooCommerce section. This setting has no effect on SEO but enables you to organise your dashboard according to your convenience.

How to use Yoast WooCommerce SEO to optimise your product pages?

We’ve talked about how to configure the Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin but how do you really use the plugin on a day-to-day basis? This is why you have installed an SEO plugin in the first place! What are some ways to ensure your products get ranked higher? To do this, you need to be able to lock into the insights that the plugin offers and know how to use it. Let’s dive into those questions, tips, and tricks.  

SEO analysis: Enable SEO analysis in the Feature tab of your Yoast SEO settings page. This will allow Yoast SEO to analyse your product pages and offer insight on what will or won’t work. You can find this information by editing a product. Scroll down till you find a section called Yoast SEO. Check out the image below to see an example. 

  • Add a focus keyword. In our example, the focus keyword is sunglasses. Click Get related keyphrases and get similar words that you can use in your product and meta descriptions.
  • Preview the mobile and desktop versions of your Google listing.
  • Create an SEO-friendly title. A slug is a descriptive word or phrase for a page on your site. The slug appears in the URL and is an easy way for someone to see which page they are on. Again, in this example, the slug is sunglasses.
  • Add a meta description. This is a snippet of text that appears in your Google listing. The meta description typically has keywords to make it more SEO-friendly. There will be a red bar that turns to green when your meta description is an optimal length. Google auto-selects descriptions often, if the bots determine there is a more relevant description elsewhere on your page. However this shouldn’t stop you from adding in meta descriptions that are SEO-optimised just in case. 
  • Check out the insights in the SEO analysis section. The section is divided into three parts: problems, improvements, and good results. This is a good way to learn how to properly optimise your product images and descriptions. And while the outcome-focused layout is helpful, we caution against getting stuck in the cycle of perfection. Remember that SEO is a marathon not a sprint, and it is absolutely ok to not have perfect scores on every page.
  • Enable a page as cornerstone content if needed. Cornerstone content is the kind of content that is central and deeply relevant to your site. You can mark or filter out a page or product as cornerstone content in the Features section. 
  • Readability: Like SEO analysis, you can enable Readability settings in the Features section. Yoast can then scan your content, and offer insights on making it more readable. 

  • Schema: Schema, as we talked about before, is a globally accepted standard for meta information about a page. With Yoast,  you can choose which type of page schema is applicable to your content. This is a vastly easier than trying to add schema code manually to each of your pages. 

  • Social: Here is where you can customise your product listings for Facebook or Twitter. When a page of your site is shared on a social platform, it usually has a short preview. The preview is pulled automatically from your site, and can contain information that does not represent the page. The social tab enables you to control which images and descriptions are used in the preview, and make the most of the social share. 

  • XML sitemaps: Sitemaps are used by Google bots to know which pages to crawl or index. It’s got the entire site structure and encompasses most pages. But there are some pages like checkout and cart that don’t need to be crawled by Google, as they are transactional pages which are contextual to a particular customer. These pages are automatically removed from the XML sitemaps by Yoast. You can enable the setting in the Features tab and allow Yoast to optimise your sitemaps. 
  • Generate Pinterest rich pins: You can create Pinterest pins that show extra information like price and description. Yoast can generate this information but first you will have to validate your site on Pinterest’s developer dashboard. Apply for validation and wait for the Pinterest team to get in touch with you. This is an especially useful feature for stores which have aesthetically pleasing wares, like decor, crafting supplies, or jewellery.

If you’re looking for more tips and tricks, we have an article on some of the best SEO practices for a WooCommerce site.

Our recommendations for maintaining a WooCommerce site well

SEO is a huge part of the daily maintenance of your WooCommerce store but there are other equally important tasks. Here are some important maintenance tasks and our best recommendations for each.

  • Real-time backups: Real-time backups are important for WooCommerce stores because data is constantly being created or changed. Customers can buy your product at any time of the day. New orders are being created and information about your customers is being added. Real-time backups ensure that no matter what time of the day it is, your site data is safe and backed up. BlogVault has automated real-time backups, along with on-demand or scheduled backups and 100% restores.
  • Speed optimisation: Speed is crucial to SEO because Google penalises sites that are not optimised for speed. With a WooCommerce store, chances are that your site will have a bunch of images and lots of pages. Plus, any kind of poorly written code can slow down your site. Airlift quickly improves page load speed by optimising your site’s code.
  • Site security: Much like speed, security is also important to SEO. Google blacklists sites that have been attacked by malware. MalCare helps you scan, clean, and protect your site in just a few minutes.
  • Design: Design can be impactful to your customer’s experience on your site. Does your store look appealing? Is the layout easy to navigate? You can design the perfect site with a page builder like Elementor. Elementor also works great with WooCommerce, and if you prefer an alternative, there’s Divi, WPBakery, Gutenberg, and Beaver Builder. New kid on the block, Spectra is worth a try too!
  • Payment gateways: Payment gateways are the key to accepting payments. Easily integrate your WooCommerce store with the three most popular ones: Stripe, PayPal, and Apple Pay.

Final thoughts

SEO is a continuous process. You can set up your Yoast SEO plugin with all the best configurations but the work is incomplete if you don’t optimise each individual page. We acknowledge that it’s a lot of work but it is definitely necessary and more than worth it. We also recommend you backup your WooCommerce site with a backup plugin like BlogVault so your work isn’t ever at risk of being lost.

FAQs

  • Which SEO plugin is best?
    Yoast SEO and All in One SEO are really good plugins. If you’d like alternatives, we have  compared all the popular SEO plugins for a WooCommerce store.
  • Is RankMath better than Yoast?
    RankMath and Yoast both have amazing reviews. RankMath has more features and is more affordable. Yoast SEO is more popular. While the answer is subjective, we think RankMath is a better option.
  • How do I start SEO for beginners?
    The best way to start is to install an SEO plugin, like All in One SEO, and make changes to your content or page, depending on the plugin’s insights. We have an article comparing the best SEO plugins for a WooCommerce store that you can check out. 

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