installing Yoast SEO for beginners Today, we’ll tackle Yoast SEO for beginners. Don’t fall over backwards in your chair when you see the length of this post. It’s mostly pictures. I promise.

You CAN Figure out SEO!

SEO kind of reminds me of the Dread Pirate Roberts from the Princess Bride. It’s really not that dreadful once you understand it a bit. SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization.’ Which simply means that you do things to your posts to make sure that they show up in search engines. Google reigns in the search engine universe, with Pinterest a close second.

Optimizing your post so that Google can find it means that other people can find it, too. And that’s why we write, right? We want to share with the world. But the Internet is filled with yelling, screaming people (kind of like the New York Stock Exchange). A basic knowledge of how to leverage SEO is like raising a banner over the yelling voices so that others can SEE you.

The first thing you’ll need to do is to install a plugin that helps you optimize your site so that search engines can find you. My favorite free plugin, Yoast SEO, is easy enough for beginners to figure out. If you already have this installed, you can skip down to the “Verify Your Site with Google Search Console” section.

Installing Yoast SEO for Beginners

Yoast SEO for beginners

Under “Plugins” select “Add New”. In the keyword search box, type in ‘Yoast SEO’ (my autocorrect wanted to change this to ‘toast.’ We had an argument). Click “Install Now” on the Yoast SEO plugin.

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Once you have installed Yoast SEO, you’re ready to verify your site with Google. Go to the “Plugins” icon on your dashboard and choose “Installed Plugins.” You’ll see the Yoast SEO plug in and a place to click on “Settings.”

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When you click on “Settings” under Yoast SEO, you’ll get a screen like this one:

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The little blue bar with the flag explains what each section means. I changed my Title Spacebar, saved the changes and went on to the next screen by clicking the blue “next” button at the bottom of the little popup.
Here is where I confess that I read through all of those things, but I clearly didn’t understand them all. I figure that the most important thing I need to know is that Yoast does a good job and I probably shouldn’t mess with their settings!

I’m going to ignore the “Improvements” flag for now, and move on to the “General” tab–which should trigger a tour (take it). (If the tour doesn’t open automatically, you can start it by clicking on the “General” tab and then selecting “Start Tour.”)

Now, you’ll want to click on the “Webmaster Tools” tab and verify your site with Google.

Verify Your Site With Google Search Console

You’ll notice that you have three choices. I’m only going to verify my site with Google for now. When you click on the blue link for “Google Search Console.” This screen will pop up. What follows next is way outside of my comfort zone, but if I can do it, so can you!

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Following Google’s instructions takes patience. First, click on the blue “file HTML…” link.

Make sure you know where to find the file once it downloads (most computers will have a folder called ‘Downloads’).

Next, you’ll need to log in to your website’s cPanel. The cPanel is the area of your WEB HOSTING company where you access the control panel (cPanel) with all the mysterious guts of your website. You can access it two ways. 1) Through your web hosting site. So, for me, I would log on to my account at Site Ground and click on the cPanel tab. OR 2) Through your OWN website. Type in (replace YOURWEBSITE with your actual website name. For me, it would be Enter your log in information.

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Your cPanel will pop up next. It looks like this:

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You will need to scroll around until you find the icon that says “File Manager.” It will look like this:

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When you click on it, you’ll get something that looks like this:

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Hang in there! We’re almost done! Look for the “Upload” folder–a little yellow folder that has a green arrow in the menu bar at the top of the page. Click on it and you’ll see this screen:

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Select and click on the “choose file” button and you’ll see this (maybe–it depends on how your computer is set up):

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Click on the Google file that has a bunch of numbers on it and then hit “Choose.” The file will upload. Your computer should upload the file to the correct place, and now you’ll be able to finish verifying it (I had to click back to the Google verification page to do this).

I clicked on the link under step three, and sure enough, a line of code popped up.

Then I clicked in the box to prove I wasn’t a robot.

Last of all, I clicked on the red “Verify” button.

Whew! Exhausting, but well worth the effort. That’s enough for today.

Next time, we’ll talk about my two favorite Yoast SEO tools. If you get stuck, or have any questions, drop me an email at

You CAN do this!

Yoast SEO for beginners

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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