Making our website Search Engine Optimized or SEO Optimized is a really important step to rank in search engine results. If the website is optimized well for search engines as well as users, it will rank higher at the top position and drive incredible traffic for free.
While there are a number of SEO plugins in WordPress Repo, I personally started using the Rank Math SEO Plugin. Earlier I used Yoast SEO (Free), however, I feel Rank Math is more powerful with rich features that Yoast SEO (Premium) was offering at a cost.
Note: For thorough instruction and recommended settings, please watch the video demo added below.
In this article, we are going to learn how to install and set up the WordPress SEO using Rank Math plugin. This plugin will help in optimizing the On-Page Search Engine Optimization within the WordPress site.
If you’re following us, this is the tenth article and video tutorial in the #WordPressBlog series. We earlier published about inserting Google Analytics tracking code in WordPress <head> tag within the header.php file.
Without further delay, let’s dive into WordPress SEO with Rank Math plugin —
Installing WordPress SEO Plugin: Rank Math
Rank Math plugin is available for free in the WordPress Plugin directory. Just follow the below steps to install and activate the WordPress SEO Rank Math.
- Login your WordPress Dashboard
- Navigate to Add New under Plugins menu
- Search and install the WordPress SEO Rank Math from the plugin directory
- Activate the Plugin and get started with Wizard.
Once the plugin is activated you will be navigated to Setup Wizard for Rank Math SEO. Very first it will ask for signing up for Rank Math account, you can skip signing up. But, this will limit some of the features available in the plugin.
There will two wizard setup:
- Basic Setup Wizard
- Advanced Setup Wizard
All you need is to carefully follow the instruction and apply the desired settings per needs. Do not worry, you can also skip the wizard and apply the SEO settings on the individual settings page.
Rank Math Dashboard
The dashboard is the homepage withing Rank Math plugin settings. It helps in enabling and disable the modules and features with a toggle button. You can easily manage the entire WordPress SEO from the dashboard page.
The Dashboard will also give access to re-run the Setup Wizard in-case if you need it. You can also import/export and create the backup of your existing Rank Math plugin settings from the Dashboard.
You can refer to the below video demo for details about each module and its usage.
General Setting for ON-Page WordPress SEO
The General Settings tab helps in setting up the site-wide SEO feature. You can enable and disable certain features along with the basic settings.
The General Settings help to configure the Links, Images, Breadcrumbs, robots.txt file along with rich features like 404 monitor and redirection (details further down).
It also helps in authorizing the Google and Bing Webmaster consoles if you’ve missed in Wizard setup.
Titles and Meta Settings
This is one of the important parts of any ON-Page SEO for ranking the website. Titles and Metas are can be configured globally i.e. site-wide as well as at granular level at individual post format type.
Titles — as the name suggested, it the basically the headline of any page or post including the blog’s home and image title. This is basically the first thing that anyone searching online will recognize and read to understand what is the content or article is all about.
You can customize the titles to include/exclude the site name, date/year, etc. You can even override the title settings using the Metabox available under each post or page that you publish online.
Meta — this is basically the additional set of information useful for the search engine to categories and identify what is content all about. The meta includes the details like published date, modified date, category, author, rich schema type, etc.
One can easily customize the Meta from the meta box as mentioned above. The meta box also helps in customizing the social media open graphs as well as add the robot information for search engines whether to index or noindex the page.
The Rank Math has the ability to customize the meta and title at every scale. You can carefully go through each aspect and settings to have the best usability and SEO ranking.
My personal SEO setting is demoed in the video added below, please watch the video tutorial for Rank Math plugin settings.
XML Sitemap Settings
Like every other WordPress SEO plugin, the XML sitemap is a useful feature available in Rank Math plugin. This helps in generating the XML file of the entire WordPress blogs and pages along with updating the frequency and number of images.
This XML file is read by Google and Bing search engine bots to understand how the website is structured as well as how frequently the site is updated. This XML file also used for indexing (and caching) the website content.
All we need is to enable the XML sitemap option and submit in Google Search Console as well as Bing Webmaster Tools.
You can even customize what all links need to be submitted for indexing. I personally exclude the archives, categories, tags, and all other pages types that will create duplications. Here the XML sitemap for my restoreBin.com Blog:
You don’t need to generate the XML sitemap every time, it’s just a one time step and submission to search engines via the webmaster tools.
Fixing 404 Not Found error for XML Sitemap:
If you’ve followed my guide on Nginx Security, you may be facing a 404 error issue when accessing XML Sitemap. You can add the below line of snippet code inside the server block of the nginx configuration file.
# Rewrites for 404 Errors with XML Sitemap rewrite ^/sitemap_index.xml$ /index.php?sitemap=1 last; rewrite ^/([^/]+?)-sitemap([0-9]+)?.xml$ /index.php?sitemap=$1&sitemap_n=$2 last;
This will help in eliminating the error and allow accessing the XML sitemap file while keeping the Nginx Security tight.
404 Monitor & Redirection
The 404 Monitor and URL Redirection feature is a pretty great add-on in this free plugin. The 404 monitors and logs all the broken links on the site which we may revisit now and then.
If there is any broken 404 link that is frequently visited, we can either recreate the broken link as a post or page. OR we may consider redirecting to the relevant post on our WordPress blog.
The Rank Math has a Smart Redirection feature that automatically adds the URL redirection if we change the URL of the post. We can even adjust the auto-added redirection per our needs.
Redirection and 404 Monitor display the hits to broken URL and when was it accessed last time. These two addons are extremely helpful and avoid using any additional plugin load for similar features.
Site-wide SEO Analysis
The Site-wide SEO Analysis displays the entire website SEO status which has been tested with 70+ ranking parameters. The Analysis report shows the areas of improvements as well as the parameters that have passed the test.
However, you need to register an account with the Rank Math website to get the Site-wide SEO Analysis to work and display the result. Creating the Rank Math account is free using Email ID or SSO sign in with Google or Facebook. Once you register the account, enter login details to authorize the Rank Math plugin.
On complete authorization, you’ll be able to run the Site-wide SEO Analysis and get the report based on current WordPress SEO settings along with the areas of improvements on-page.
This report is extremely helpful for anyone who is starting off with SEO.
Watch WordPress SEO: Rank Math Setup Tutorial
Watch the complete step by step setup of Rank Math plugin for on-page WordPress SEO. The plugin is also added with premium features like redirection, 404 monitors, as well as integration with the Google Search Console to display keywords data.
I hope you liked the video tutorial. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos.
What’s next in the #WordPressBlog Series?
Now that we completed the WordPress SEO settings with Rank Math plugin.
Next, we will learn to set up the remote back up of the entire WordPress in our online storage sites like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive or Amazon. This remote backup is really important to keep our entire site data off-site and recover the site if anything goes wrong.