WooCommerce SEO Tips – How to Get The Most Out of Yoast SEO

If you’re running an online store you’re most likely using one of the following top three eCommerce platforms; WooCommerce, Shopify or Magento. In 2018 WooCommerce had the largest eCommerce market share with 21% which is mainly due to its ease of use, scalability and SEO capabilities.

Now, I’m not saying that just by using WooCommerce will make your website rank better on Google but there are several plugins that make the job a lot easier. One of these plugins is Yoast SEO and is the number one ranking SEO plugin for WooCommerce. It’s free, simple to use and gives you guidance when optimising your website.

You still have to put the work in to make your website appear for relevant search phrases in Google, but if you research your target keywords and follow the guidance from Yoast, you’ll be heading the right direction.

What I’m going to show you in this article is how to set up Yoast SEO and make the most of its analysis and recommendations. Even if you’re already using Yoast there are some hidden settings that can help your website rank better in Google.

WooCommerce SEO Set Up

When you first activate the Yoast SEO plugin there is an installation wizard to guide you through the initial set up.

  1. From the Dashboard click on the new Yoast icon and then click “Configure Yoast SEO”.
  2. Environment – If your website is live, make sure you select “Option A: My site is live and ready to be indexed. If your website is on a staging server and you don’t want Google to index it just yet, make sure you select Option B.
  3. Site type – select what your site represents. “An online shop” in this case.
  4. Company or person – Select “Company”, enter your company name and upload your company logo to be included in Google’s Knowledge Graph.
  5. Social profiles – Add your social profiles to be included in Google’s Knowledge Graph.
  6. Search engine visibility – The options on this page will depend on how your WooCommerce site is set up. But you should have the following selected;
    1. Posts
    2. Pages
    3. Products
  7. Multiple authors – if you’re planning on having multiple authors for your blog posts select “Yes”. If there is just going to be one person creating content or posting as the company, select “No”.
  8. Google Search Console – if you have a Google Search Console account enter your authorisation code to display extra data in the admin area.
  9. Title settings – enter your website and title separator. Don’t worry as you can change this later.

Click “Next” to skip through steps 10, 11 and 12 as they are just prompting you to sign up to a newsletter and upselling the premium option.

Find out we increased an eCommerce start-up’s online revenue by 491%. – Read case study

Fine Tuning Yoast SEO

Now the installation wizard is out of the way you can start to fine-tune Yoast SEO. If you’ve been using Yoast for a while it might be worth revisiting these settings to make sure you’re getting the most from the plugin.

General Section

In the General section head over to the “Features” tab and make sure the following are set to ”On”;

  • SEO analysis
  • XML sitemaps

In my opinion, the other options in this section are aimed at information websites.

Search Appearance Section

General Tab

Here you have the opportunity to change the knowledge graph information and upload a different company logo. The most important option in this tab is “Force rewrite titles”. Ensure this is set to “Disabled” which will allow you full control over your SEO titles.

Content Types Tab

Here you can specify the default search appearance for certain content types and is the same as the “search engine visibility” step above. Each content type will have the following options;

  • Show in search results
  • Date in preview snippet
  • Yoast SEO Meta Box
  • SEO title
  • Meta description

For an eCommerce site, you should have Posts, Pages and Products. Here is what your settings should be.

  • Show in search results – Yes
  • Date in preview snippet – Hide
  • Yoast SEO Meta Box – Show
  • SEO title – You can create a default template to save time if you wish but I prefer to leave this empty
  • Meta description – Same as SEO title

There might be other content types available in this section but you should set “Show in search results” to “No”.

Media Tab

By default, WordPress will create a URL for attachments (media). If you visit one of these attachment pages it will just show the media and media title if you’ve entered one. Therefore it’s best practice to have the setting on “Yes” to allow a redirect to the media item.

Taxonomies Tab

Here you can specify the default search appearance of taxonomies. Each taxonomy will have the following options;

  • Show in search results
  • SEO title
  • Meta description
  • Yoast SEO Meta Box

For an eCommerce site you need to apply the following settings to Categories and Product Categories;

  • Show in search results – Yes
  • SEO title – You can create a default template to save time if you wish but I prefer to leave this empty
  • Meta description – Same as SEO title
  • Yoast SEO Meta Box – Show

There will be other taxonomies present such as Tags, Format, Product Tag, Shipping Classes etc and all these should have “Show in search results” set to “No”. You don’t want unmeaningful pages or duplicate pages showing in the search results, so it’s best to set to “No”. For example, if you have products listed as next day delivery you don’t need a page displaying all the products with this delivery option.

On the other hand, you might have a taxonomy you do want to be indexed. For example, one of our clients has a “Brand” taxonomy and we do want this to be indexed.

At the bottom of the Taxonomies page, there is a Category URLs setting. Leave this setting on ”keep” to avoid removing the category name from URLs.

Author Archives Tab

If you’re planning to have multiple authors creating content for your Blog then it’s a good idea to have this setting “Enabled”. This will allow visitors to click on the author’s name and view all the content they’ve created.

If you’re only going to have one author it’s best practice to change the setting to “Disabled” because it will just duplicate the content from your main Blog page.

On-Page Optimisation For Products

Now you’ve set up and fine-tuned Yoast SEO it’s time to get to work optimising your site. When you’ve opened the product you want to optimise you will notice there is a Yoast SEO section below your product information.

The Yoast SEO section is split into three tabs;

  1. Content optimisation – snippet preview and analysis results.
  2. Social – how your product will appear when shared on Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Advanced – whether you want the product to be indexed, follow links, robots and canonical URL.

Most of the work you do will be in the content optimisation section so here’s how to make the most of it.

First, you need to select your focus keyword. This is the search phrase you’d like the product to be found for in Google. For products, this is usually the full product name. In this example, I’ll use one of our client’s products, the “SnuzSurface Mattress 70cm x 140cm”.

Based on your focus keyword the plugin will analyse your product and give you recommendations, so it’s important to select the correct keywords. Your focus keyword should be present in the following areas.

  • Product title
  • URL
  • SEO title (click “edit snippet”)
  • Meta description (click “edit snippet”)
  • Content

Pro tip: It’s good practice to include related keywords when optimising products. Using the example above you should include keywords like “baby mattress”, “Snuz” (brand name), “sleep surface”, “pocket spring mattress” etc. Using these types of related keywords will help Google understand the content and will result in a higher Google position. These types of related keywords can be discovered through in-depth keyword research.

Analysis and Recommendations

The Yoast SEO plugin analyses the following and uses a traffic light system to let you know the problems, what needs improvement and what is good.

  • Focus keyword appears in the first paragraph.
  • Exact match keyword density is less than 2.5%.
  • Meta description contains the focus keyword.
  • Meta description is a good length.
  • Focus keyword appears in subheadings.
  • Page contains an image with the focus keyword in the alt attribute.
  • Content contains more than 300 words.
  • Content contains an outbound link.
  • SEO title contains the focus keyword, preferably at the beginning.
  • SEO title is a good length.
  • Content includes an internal link.
  • Focus keyword appears in URL
  • URL doesn’t contain any stop words.
  • Focus keyword hasn’t been used before.

Remember that the recommendations are to guide you through optimising your product. Sometimes you’re not going to achieve good results for all of the recommendations. For example, you might not have a relevant outbound link to add or the focus keyword doesn’t appear in the subheadings… it’s ok. When you’ve finished optimising your product you’ll get an overall rating. If you’ve ticked most of the boxes you should see a nice green smiley face.

XML Sitemaps

After fine-tuning and optimising it’s time to put it all to good use by using an XML Sitemap. An XML Sitemap contains a list of all the important pages and products you want Google to index.

To access your XML Sitemap you need to do the following.

  1. From the Dashboard click on the new Yoast icon and then click “General”.
  2. Next, click on the “Features” tab.
  3. Find “XML Sitemaps” and click on the “?” to expand the text.
  4. Click “See the XML sitemap” and it will be loaded in a new tab.

Now you know the URL of your XML Sitemap you can upload it Google Search Console, allowing Google to index your website quickly and more efficiently. After you’ve set up your Google Search Console account you can upload it by clicking on “Sitemaps” under the “Index” section. Enter “sitemap_index.xml” in the “Add a new sitemap” field and hit submit. Your XML sitemap will be processed by Google and the status will change to “Success” once it’s approved.

What Next?

Following the steps above will let you get the most from your WooCommerce SEO. If you want to take your on-page optimisation a little further you should take a look at our “Quick SEO Wins in 6 Easy Steps” article.

If you want to increase your online sales and revenue from your eCommerce site but don’t have time to apply the changes yourself call Mechanised on 0161 791 0100, email hello@mechanised.co.uk or click on the message box in the corner and we can have a chat about your business goals.