Common Yoast Mistakes That Even SEOs Make

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I sometimes get requests to evaluate an SEO firm’s expertise. The first thing I do is check the company’s website. Most of their sites are built with WordPress and use Yoast SEO. More often than not, there are basic things that aren’t done right.

If an agency can’t take 10 minutes to properly configure an extremely user-friendly plugin, I can’t recommend it. Unfortunately, SEO is one of the easiest things to sell while delivering basically nothing.

Common mistakes

Attachment sitemaps

By default, media and attachment URLs are included in the XML sitemap. Unless there’s a good reason to drive visitors to media attachment pages, this should be left out of the sitemap.

What’s the issue?

Media attachment pages are just shallow content that isn’t useful to the vast majority of users. When they’re indexed by search engines, they flood SERPs with low-quality content that weakens the rest of your site’s results.

Yoast gives users a similar warning: “When you upload media (an image or video for example) to WordPress, it doesn’t just save the media, it creates an attachment URL for it. These attachment pages are quite empty: they contain the media item and maybe a title if you entered one. Because of that, if you never use these attachment URLs, it’s better to disable them, and redirect them to the media item itself. “

Here is an example of an indexed attachment page that’s indexed in Google:

Attachment media page in Google

That particular site has 843 of those URLs indexed!

How to fix it

Like everything mentioned here, this is an easy fix. So there’s no excuse:

  • When you’re logged into WordPress, click the Yoast SEO tab in the left sidebar
  • Click Search Appearance from the left sidebar navigation
  • Select the Media tab at the top of the page
  • Under Media & attachment URLs choose Yes under the question: “Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself?”
  • Press Save changes
Yoast media attachment URLs

That’s it. Like I said, there’s no excuse.

Content types in SERPs

A lot of WordPress sites rely on custom post types, Most of the time they’re included in a premium theme, and the end user doesn’t know anything about it.

Why it matters

This can cause the same problems as media attachment URLs if the custom post types aren’t intended to be indexed. It can also cause duplicate content issues that affect rankings of pages you actually want humans to see.

How to fix it

  • Click the Yoast SEO link in the left sidebar
  • Click Content Types in the top tabs
  • Review the post types and select No for the ones you don’t want included in SERPs
Custom post types

Taxonomies

Whether you want tags and categories indexed depends on whether the content is passable.

Why it matters

See above.

How to fix it

  • After you click the Yoast SEO link in the left sidebar, select Taxonomies
  • Review the taxonomies for other types you shouldn’t index, like formats

Ignoring social settings

When setting up Yoast, users are asked to input their social profile URLs so they’re included in Google’s Knowledge Graph. The URLs may accompany search results and give you more front page economy.

Why it matters

This won’t make or break your SEO efforts but every little bit helps.

In general, it’s important to give Google as much accurate information about your site as possible so it can rank it accordingly. The more details web crawlers can glean from your site architecture and code, the better.

How to fix it

  • Click the Yoast SEO link in the left sidebar when logged into WordPress
  • Click the Social link
  • Copy and paste your social profile URLs into the fields
  • Don’t forget to include your company’s Wikipedia page if there is one; you can safely ignore MySpace
Yoast social profiles

Facebook settings

While you’re at it, click the Facebook tab at the top of the Social – Yoast SEO section.

Under Default settings select the image you want to be used when there’s no featured image available. This will make social media posts look prettier when people share content without an image associated with it and may be displayed in SERPs.

Yoast Facebook settings

How to find mistakes

The easiest way to find these issues is to go to the domain’s XML sitemap. If there are a bunch of URLs that aren’t pages or posts, some cleanup is probably in order.

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