This post shows you step by step how to set up the SEO Framework plugin.
Which SEO Plugin Do You Use?
I used to use the free version of the Yoast SEO plugin on all my WordPress sites. But recently I switched to the SEO Framework plugin. If you want to give it a try you can find the SEO Framework plugin in the WordPress repository.
The SEO Framework Plugin Is (Largely) Free
The SEO Framework plugin is free, but the developer has created some premium extensions which you can buy. This blog post describes the settings for the free version.
One last thing to mention; although the plugin is capable of generating SEO values for you, it’s much better if you write all of them yourself.
What Does An SEO Plugin Do?
SEO Plugins are not magic and don’t tune your site for the search engines without you putting in some effort to set them up. Here is a quick summary of what an SEO plugin does.
An SEO plugin will typically:
- Provide a location where you can enter the title tag of your page or post
- Provide a location where you can enter the meta description for your page or post
- Generate any title tags or meta descriptions that are missing (never as good as writing your own)
- Allow you to easily set a page or post’s index, follow, archive and redirect properties
- Set up social media sharing images, titles and descriptions
- Provide for home page SEO settings and social media settings as the home page is generally not included in the page and post settings already mentioned above
- Allow you to set various values to help the site do better in the search engines by minimising SEO mistakes that commonly occur in WordPress
- Minimise duplicate content on indexed archive pages or allow for their indexing, archiving and following (or not)
- Arrange for additional schema.org markup to be added where possible.
- Generation and placement of a sitemap
- Notification to major search engines of new published content
- Setting of feeds to excerpts to minimise chances of scraper sites stealing content (it can still happen but this setting can make it a little less likely)
An SEO plugin may do other things but those are the major items. Even in that list we can see there is quite a lot going on, so it’s important to set the plugin up properly.
Install The SEO Framework Plugin
It’s a free plugin and you can install it straight from your WordPress dashboard.
Once installed, the plugin shows up in the WordPress dashboard in the left-hand menu with the menu title SEO, as in the screenshot above.
SEO Settings Generation
This plugin generates default values for your SEO, but this isn’t the best way to do it in my opinion. It is better to hand-craft all the SEO values at the time of writing each post.
However, if your site already has hundreds of posts you can just hand write the SEO values for any new posts if you cannot face going back over all of them.
Let’s get started with the set-up.
Note! Please do not just look at the screenshots. Also read the numbered notes under each screenshot to decide on the settings you need.
- General Settings – Layout
- Check this setting because you want to see which posts have poor SEO values at a glance on the post or page listings page
- Check this setting because you can see if your SEO values are any good (according to the plugin) for each individual post or page.
A Note About Quality
The SEO Framework plugin gives you an indication of how good or bad an SEO value is. So you might have the right number of characters in your SEO title or your SEO meta description, but you may still not get a green overall score.
Regarding quality, all the plugin does is test if you have overused words. So if you have used the word and say, three times, it will downgrade your score.
This will force you to re-write the SEO value until you can reduce the number of repeated terms. I have found this to be a simple but very effective method of achieving better SEO titles and meta descriptions.
It’s still up to you to know that your SEO value is on topic and consisting of the right keywords – that is your personal skill and input to the process. However assuming you are using keywords to represent your article appropriately, the quality of SEO values is automatically maximised when words of any kind are not repeated.
- General Settings – Performance
- If you have object caching available and it is checked at #4, then uncheck this setting.
- If you have object caching available and it is checked at #4, then uncheck this setting.
- Check this setting so that a site map is generated for you
- Check this box if you see this section on your dashboard
A Note About Object Caching
Notice that at #4 in the screenshot, I have an Object Cache Settings. You may not see this on your SEO Framework dashboard.
The object caching box appears for me as I host with WP Engine.
WP Engine provide object caching to make sites go faster. Object caching captures queries made to the database and stores them in memory.
Running database queries takes ages in terms of computer time. So the idea behind object caching is to have you to run “expensive” queries one time, and then reuse the results of those queries again and again.
When set up properly, object caching can make your site respond more quickly by reducing the time that is spent accessing the database.
You will only see this box #4 if you also have object caching on your site.
- General Settings – Canonical
- Assuming you have only one protocol on your site, set this to detect automatically so that if you change from http:// to https:// in the future, you will not have to come back and update this setting.
- Check this setting if you have posts or pages that are expressed over a number of separate URLs so they will contain the relevant prev and next rel link tags.
- Check this setting so that archive pages which are often expressed over a number of separate URLs contain the relevant prev and next rel link tags.
- Check this setting so that your home page, if expressed over a number of separate URLs contain the relevant prev and next rel link tags. Not all home pages are expressed over multiple URLs, but this is likely to happen if you have a whole series of blog extracts on your home page.
- Title Settings – General
- Whatever you set here is not used unless you also allow additions on the next tab. So here, select the type of divider character you would like to see in your title tags, in the case where you have allowed additional text to be added either left or right of your title tags. Just so you know, I don’t normally use the additional text, so I ignore this setting.
- Title Settings – Additions
- You can choose either left or right on this setting. As I do not use the blog name in the title tag it does not matter which I choose. But if unlike me, you choose to use the blog name in your title tags (in the next step), then probably go for right as this means you can still put your keywords first in the title tag.
- I prefer not to have the name of the site repeated on every single title tag. If your site name is long it takes up precious space which, if you handcraft your title tags, will be wasted space. So if you prefer not to have the site name automatically placed in the title tag, check this box. If on the other hand, you choose not to check the box, the site name will appear on the left or right as you have selected above.
- Title Settings – Prefixes
- As I prefer to handcraft all the title tags – even those for category pages – I prefer to have no prefix generated content. You can choose to leave this box unchecked if you prefer.
- Description Meta Settings – General
- It does not matter what you choose here. I have chosen the double arrow as indicated but then I won’t be using it. See next step …
- Description Meta Settings – Additions
- I have set this box unchecked as I do not want any automated values added to the meta description. I will have write them all. If you want the title tag added to the meta description automatically go ahead.
- I also do not want the site name added to the meta description. Again, if you do check this box.
- Home Page Settings – General
- Some themes, in the case where you do not have a logo, display a tagline under the site title. If you want to change that tagline, you can do it here. I always have a logo so adding a value here in my case won’t have any effect. The other use for this value is when you want to add additions to the home page title tag. This is also a setting I do not use as you will see later.
- Supply the title tag for your home page here.
- You want to make sure your title tag provides you with a green quality result. If you use the same word multiple times, you may find that you cannot get a green result. You need a green character count and a green quality rating.
- Supply your home page meta description here.
- Make sure your meta description returns a green quality result. If you use the same word multiple times, you may find that you cannot get a green result. You need a green character count and a green quality rating.
One way of making sense of title tags and meta descriptions is to set the title tag as a question (also using keywords from your topic), and make the meta description the answer (but also using keywords from your topic).
- Home Page Settings – Additions
- If you have checked the box below, then you can choose to have the site description (tagline) appear on the left or the right of the main title tag text.
- I leave this unchecked as I do not want any automatic additions. But if you do, then check this box and make sure you have supplied a tagline on the general tab.
- Home Page Settings – Robots
- Most people want to have their home page indexed in search engines. So keep this unchecked.
- You almost certainly want to have all links on your home page followed by search engines, so again leave this unchecked.
- If you leave this unchecked, you will allow Google to keep a cached version of your page available to searchers. This can be useful if your site goes down or for diagnostic purposes if, for example, your site has been hacked.
- Some home pages – and at the time of writing this certainly applies to the home page on Genesis Clubbers – generate second and subsequent home page versions due to the long list of paginated blog posts that appear on the home page. Some themes do not have this feature. If your theme does, then it can make sense to apply a noindex to every second and subsequent page on the home page. So I would check this box to reduce the occurrence of indexed duplicate content.
- Home Page Settings – Social
- When your home page is posted on social media, it helps of there is a good image that you have planned just for the purpose, specified here. You should create an image that is branded with your domain name and/or logo, and that is eye-catching enough, such that people notice it. Place the URL to this image in this box. The image you create should be around 1200px wide.
I always leave this box blank because I use our plugin, Genesis Club Pro to do this job. Genesis Club Pro allows you to specify a different title and description to go with the image and so does not use the title and meta description already set up in this section. I think you generally need a different title and description for social media so I prefer to use our plugin for this.
- Social Meta Settings – General
- Check this box to provide social media open graph tags on each page.
- Check this box to insert Facebook specific tags
- Check this box to insert Twitter specific tags
- Provide the URL of an image specifically created to use as fallback image in the case where no image is supplied for any individual post or page. I normally make this the same as the image used for the home page.
- You can check this box if you like, but I have never found a good use for it.
- Social Meta Settings – Facebook
- Enter the URL to your personal Facebook profile. Only do this if you want to.
- Enter your Facebook page URL
- Add your Facebook App Id for your website. You can set up a Facebook App Id by visiting this Facebook page.
- Social Meta Settings – Twitter
- Set this value to summary-large-image
- Add your business Twitter handle if you have one
- Optionally add your personal Twitter handle here if it is connected with your business.
- Social Meta Settings – Post Dates
- Check this box so that you add the published date to your posts via a tag.
- Leave this box unchecked.
- Check this box so that you add the modified date to your posts via a tag.
- Leave this box unchecked.
- Check this box to add the published date to your home page
- Check this box to add the modified date to your home page
This takes care of dates internally but is not visible to users on the page. Using the Genesis Club Pro plugin, I go one further and add both dates to posts so users can see the date a post is published and the date it was modified. This gives visitors confidence in your content if you are open enough yo date it, IMO.
- Schema Settings – General
- Select organisation or person here depending on what your site represents
- Set the name of the organisation or personal name here
- Schema Settings – Structure
- Check this box to enable breadcrumbs schema markup
- Check this box to add the site name to the schema markup in preference to the URL of out home page
- Check this to add a sitelinks search box to the search engine results when a user searches for your site directly.
- Schema Settings – Presence
- Schema markup related to authorized presence gives Google confidence that you are who you say you are, and that you’re worthy of appearing in search results. So check this box.
- Check this box if you are using the customisier to display a favicon and not using our plugin. I I leave this box unchecked and use the Genesis Club Pro plugin to add schema logo markup using an actual logo rather than the favicon.
- URL of the business Facebook page if you have one
- URL of the Twitter page for your business, if you have one
- URL of the Google+ page for your business, if you have one
- URL of the Instagram page for your business, if you have one
- URL of the YouTube page for your business, if you have one
- URL of your LinkedIn page
- URL of the Pinterest page for your business, if you have one
- URL of the Soundcloud page for your business, if you have one
- URL of the Tumblr page for your business, if you have one
- Robots Meta Settings – General
- Check this box to avoid search engines trying to use any open directory project values for titles and descriptions.
- Check this box to avoid search engines trying to use any Yahoo! directory project values for titles and descriptions.
- Check this box to avoid the indexing of second and subsequent archive pages. This reduces the amount of duplicate content and duplicate content signals on your site.
- Robots Meta Settings – Indexing
- You can check this box if you definitely do not want your category pages indexed. Most people would prefer to check this box. I don’t check it on sites where I am confident I have worked to avoid the duplicate content normally caused by archive pages.
- Check this box to prevent the indexing of any tag pages. Most people would want to check this box.
- Check this box to prevent the indexing of Author archive pages
- Check this box to prevent the indexing of Date archive pages
- Check this box to prevent the indexing of Search pages
- Check this box to prevent the indexing of Attachment pages
- Do not check this box as it will noindex the entire site.
- Robots Meta Settings – Following
- Do not check this box to allow for the following of all links from the category archive pages
- Do not check this box to allow for the following of all links from the tag archive pages
- Do not check this box to allow for the following of all links from the author archive pages
- Do not check this box to allow for the following of all links from the date archive pages
- Do not check this box to allow for the following of all links from the search pages
- Do not check this box to allow for the following of all links from the attachment pages
- Do not check this box
- Robots Meta Settings – Archiving
- Do not check this box so that cached pages are held for the category archive pages
- Check this box so that cached pages are not kept for tag archives pages
- Check this box so that cached pages are not kept for author archives pages
- Check this box so that cached pages are not kept for date archives pages
- Check this box so that cached pages are not kept for search pages
- Check this box so that cached pages are not kept for attachment archives
- Do not check this box
- Webmaster Meta Settings
- You can use this box if you like to supply the Google Search console verification code, but I prefer to verify via Google Analytics.
- Use this box to place the Bing webmaster verification code.
- Use this box for the Yandex verification code (assuming the Yandex search engine is important to you)
- Use this box for the Pinterest verification code, assuming pinterest is immortant to you.
- Site Map Settings – General
Check this box to have the plugin output a sitemap for you.
- Site Map Settings – Robots
As I provide my own robots.txt file via my host, I do not have anything to place here. Most hosts will provide a robots.txt file for you as a starting point. But if you do not have a robots file already you can specify some settings on this tab.
- Site Map Settings – Timestamps
Check this box so that any posts or pages that are updated are notified.
Choose the type of timestamp you want. I prefer the full timestamp.
- Site Map Settings – Ping
Check box to notify Google every time the sitemap changes
Check box to notify Bing every time the sitemap changes
Check box to notify Yandex every time the sitemap changes (assuming you want to notify Yandex, the Russian search engine)
- Site Map Settings – Style
Check the box to style the sitemap
Choose a header background color
Choose a title and lines color
- Feed Settings
Check this box to make the feed entries into excerpts
Check this box to add a link to the full source underneath each excerpt
- Post SEO Settings General
- On each page or post there are additional settings to be made. This is where you set up each handcrafted SEO title and meta description. You should also add an individual social media image to help promote the post on social media.
- Place the SEO title for the post or page here. Make sure you have a green character count score and a green background to the T section of the bar.
- Place the SEO meta description here. Again make sure you get a green character count score and a green background to the D section of the bar.
- Post SEO Settings Visibility
- This value is generated for you. If you should need to change it, you can specify a custom canonical URL.
- Check this box to apply a noindex if you don’t want this page to be indexed by search engines.
- Check this box to be nofollow if you want no links on this page to be followed by the search engines.
- Check this box if you want to avoid this page being cached by the search engines.
- Check this box if you want the page to be excluded from local search (great for thank you pages and other pages that people only visit if they have followed a specific process)
- This is a really useful checkbox – check it if you want the post to be excluded from category, tag, author and date archive listings.
- You can provide a URL to automatically redirect this page to here.
- Post SEO Settings Social
- You can use this box to place a URL to a custom social media image. I don’t use this facility, preferring the one in the Genesis Club Pro plugin, which offers more flexibility.