Do you want to properly install and Setup Rank Math SEO Plugin?
Well, you have come to the right place.
Every WordPress site needs an SEO plugin.
And when it comes to SEO plugins, Rank Math is by far one of the most popular feature-rich options.
Whether you are running a personal blog or you are an SEO professional managing your client website, Rank Math is one of the most powerful tools that can make your site as search-engine-friendly as possible.
Even though the Rank math team has done a tremendous job trying to make it beginner-friendly, there’s still a good chance you may need some help with how to use Rank Math SEO plugin.
To give you that help, I have written this monster Rank Math SEO tutorial.
It’s such a big guide that I have split it into two different sections:
- Rank Math Setup Tutorial – In this section, I’ll cover step by step process to set up Rank math SEO plugin settings for first-time users.
- Content Optimization With Rank Math – In this section, I’ll cover how to utilize Rank Math SEO plugin to optimize your content for SEO and higher search engine ranking.
In this section, I’ll cover what you need to do when you install Rank Math SEO plugin for the first time on your WordPress site.
Note – Even if you are already using an SEO plugin on your site then don’t worry, Rank math has one-click option to migrate your SEO data from old SEO plugin to new Rank math.
1. Downloading and installing Rank Math plugin
If you don’t already have installed Rank Math on your WordPress website, let’s take care of that first.
If you already have installed and activated Rank Math on your blog, feel free to click here to skip this section.
From your site’s admin dashboard, hover over to the “Plugins” option and select the “Add new” option.
Now you’ll be brought to WordPress plugin repository, here you have to type “Rank Math” in the search box appearing in your right side.
Once you find the Rank Math SEO plugin, click “Install now” and WordPress will download the plugin automatically. Once it is downloaded successfully, you’ll get an option to activate it.
As soon as you activate the plugin, you’ll see an option marked “Rank Math” on the left-hand sidebar menu of your admin dashboard.
Downloading and installing Rank math was super easy, but now that you have done that, you need to set up the plugin.
If you have never used an SEO plugin before, then this might seem a little overwhelming to you, but I promise it’s nothing that you can’t handle.
Since the ideal Rank Math settings will vary from site to site, I am not going to tell you hard and fast settings to choose, But I will walk you through what each of the settings and option are.
As well as all the settings suggestions I am going to give you are ideal for most of the blog and in fact, I am also using the same settings on my bog.
So, let’s get started…
2. Launch Setup Wizard
Now from your plugin list, Find Rank Math and click “Setup Wizard’ to start the setup process.
3. Activate Rank Math
Once the setup process begins, you will be greeted with the activation screen.
As I mentioned earlier, It is a 100% free plugin but still, you have to activate the plugin to access all its features.
Use this link to head over to Rank Math’s official website and create an account. Use your email id to create a free account and make sure to remember your signup credentials to activate Rank Math.
Note: If you have signed up with your Facebook or Google account then your username and password will be sent to your email account.
Once you got your username and password, enter your credentials on Rank Math’s activation screen, and click the “Activate Rank Math” button.
In the next screen, Rank Math conducts a compatibility check to see if your website is compatible with the Rank Math plugin or not.
You don’t have to do anything on compatibility screen, Rank Math will automatically check the compatibility for you. Once everything is green click the “Start Wizard” button to continue the setup process.
4. Importing settings from other SEO plugins
Quick Note: If you were not using any SEO plugin earlier on your blog, then this tab will not appear in your setup wizard. So, don’t worry about that just skip this section to continue your setup process.
If you are switching to Rank Math from any other SEO plugin, Rank Math will automatically detect your existing SEO and allow you to selectively choose which settings you wish to import.
For example- Here is how the Import Data screen appears when I was switching from Yoast SEO to Rank Math.
Rank Math gives you the ability to customize the import process by importing only selected data from your SEO plugin.
Just click the drop-down button on the edge of the Import Data field and select or de-select the data you want to import or not imported.
Editor’s note: I will recommend you to select all the data to make your migration process as smother as possible.
As soon as you click on the “Start Import” button the import process will begin immediately.
The time to complete the importing process will depend on how many posts & pages you have on your website. (Generally 20-40 seconds.)
Once the process is complete, press the “continue” button.
5.Selecting Your Website Type
Now on the next screen, you need to fill the basic information of your site.
- Type of your website – Here you have to choose from a personal blog, community site, News site or a Business site. For me, it’s a personal blog, so I just selected the Personal blog from the drop-down menu.
- Logo for Google – Here you need to upload a logo for your site. (The maximum resolution of the logo can be 1920x1080px.)
- Default Social Share Image – Here you can upload an image which will be made the default for social sharing for your website.
Once you have selected all the options properly, Just click on “Save and Continue” button.
6. Setting Up Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free tool from Google that allows you to view information about how your website or blog perform in search engine.
With Rank Math, you can authorize your website and keep a track of your search console records right inside your website’s admin area.
If you have not created your Search Console account yet, then first you need to refer this guide to create and set up a search console account.
Once you have a search console account, Click on “Get Authorization Code.”
A popup window will open up, which would list all your Google account. Select the account which is associated with your search console account.
On the next screen, you have to click the “Allow” button to give all the necessary permission to Rank Math. Finally, you’ll see an authorization code generated by Google, Just copy the code and paste it into the Search Console field.
As soon as you do this Rank Math will automatically verify your account. And once your search console account is connected click on the “Save and continue” button.
7. Sitemap settings
Sitemap is basically indexes for search engines. It helps search engines to discover your website contents and index it properly.
In this tab, you can choose your Sitemap configuration and select which type of posts or pages you want to include in your Sitemaps.
Here are the various sitemap options available in Rank Math setup wizard:
- Sitemap – This option turns the sitemap feature ON or OFF on your website. By default, it’ll be ON and I will also recommend you to keep it “ON.”
- Include Images – This option will let you enable or disable the inclusion of images in your sitemap. I will recommend you to keep it “ON” as it’ll help you get better indexing for your site’s images too.
- Public Post Types – This option lets you select which types of posts you want to include in your sitemap. I will recommend you to just select only “Posts” and “Pages” in your sitemap.
- Public Taxonomies – This option lets you enable or disable the inclusion of Categories in your sitemap. I personally don’t like to include Categories in my sitemap, but if your categories pages are important then you can keep it on.
Once you have configured the sitemap settings, press the “Save and Continue” button to move onto the next step.
8. SEO Tweaks
In this step, you are going to enable some simple tweaks for your website that are actually important from the SEO point of view.
Let’s check out all the available options one by one:
- Noindex Empty Category and Tag Archives – In WordPress, each of your categories, taxonomy, and tag will create a separate page which will by default indexed by Google.
But from the SEO point of view, they should not be indexed into Google as they usually don’t have any original content and Google takes it as duplicate pages. So it’s better to noindex them.
- Nofollow Image File Links – When you add an image on your website, you also get an option to add hyperlinks to it. That means when one of your site users will click on that image then he or she will be taken to another URL. This option lets you noindex all your images link. I will recommend you to keep this option “ON”.
- Nofollow External Links – This option lets you no-follow all the extrenal links available on your site. I will recommend you to keep it “OFF” as you can manually control all your link within your WordPress content editor very easily.
- Open External Links New Tab/Window – I will recommend you to keep it “ON” as opening External link to a new window will make sure your visitors will not leave your site.
- Strip Category Base – WordPress categories pages usually have a category base attached to them.
For example, your default category named “Best products” will be:
But when you enable this option then it will strip the category name from the URLs and make it cleaner.
Once you have configured all the SEO tweaks, Click the “Save and Continue” button to proceed to the next step.
That’s it finally you have successfully configured the basic SEO settings in your Rank Math plugin.
Now as we are done with setup wizard configuration process, Just return to your WordPress dashboard.
Advance Rank Math SEO Settings
We are done with Rank Math basic SEO settings. Even if you leave your SEO settings as it is now, it is completely fine.
But if you are interested in utilizing all the features given by Rank Math to make your site as search engine friendly as possible then I will recommend you configure the additional SEO settings for your website.
So without wasting further time, let’s configure the advance Rank Math Settings.
To get into the Rank Math advance settings hover over the Rank Math’s menu entry in your dashboard left sidebar and select “General settings.”
1. Rank Math General Settings
General settings contain some of the important settings that affect your overall SEO effort.
Let’s have a look at various settings available under the General tab.
The links section has all the settings that modify the behavior of links on your website or blog.
Here are the various settings you’ll find under the Links tab:
- Strip Category Base – As we discussed earlier while configuring setup wizard, enabling this option will strip the “category” part from all your Categorie’s URL and make the URL shorter. You may keep it ON but I will recommend you to keep it “OFF”.
- Redirect Attachments – Enabling this setting will help you redirect URLs of your attachments to the post that is associated with the image.
It is a good SEO practice and has plenty of SEO benefits for your site. So, I will recommend you to keep this setting “ON”.
- Redirect Orphan Attachments – Images and attachments that are not associated with any of your posts are called orphan media.
Here you can enter the link where you’d like the URLs of Orphan Media to be redirected to. I will recommend you to enter your homepage URL in the field.
- Remove Stopwords from Permalinks – This option will let you remove stop words (a, and, the, or, he, him, etc.) from your WordPress posts and pages URLs.
I will recommend you to keep this setting “OFF.”
- NoFollow External Links – If you enable this option then it will automatically add
rel="nofollow"attribute to all the external links appearing in your posts, pages, and other post types.
I will recommend you to keep it “OFF” as you can always easily add NoFollow tag to external links whenever it is required.
- NoFollow Image File Links – This option lets you automatically add NoFollow tag to external links associated with your images.
I will recommend you to keep it “ON”.
- NoFollow Domains – All the links you’ll enter in this section will always be nofollowed.
I will recommend you to leave it as it is.
- NoFollow Exclude Domains – All the links you’ll enter into this section will be always followed (Vice versa of Previous option)
I will recommend you to leave it as it is.
- Open External Links in New Tab/Window – If you enable this option then whenever someone will click on any external link presents in your WordPress posts and pages, It will be opened into a new window.
I will recommend you to keep it “ON” as opening External link to a new window will make sure your visitors will not leave your site.
Once you are done with all the settings, click on “Save changes.”
As the name suggests this section is related to the images of your site. Here the options available under the Image tab:
- Add missing ALT attributes – Enabling this option will automatically add Alt Attributes to all the images that do not have any Alt text by default. Since the Alt tag is very important for the search engine to understand the image of your site, I ‘ll recommend you to keep it “ON”.
- Alt Attribute Format – If you’ve enabled the Add missing Alt Attribute option, next you have to select an Alt Attribute format.
Rank Math lets you use from the many supported variables to create a useful format. I will recommend you to choose Post title %Title% as your image must be related to at least your post title.
- Add Missing Title Attributes – Enabling this option will automatically add the Title attributes to the images without a title.
I will recommend you to keep it “ON.”
- Title attribute format – Title attribute format is very similar to the Alt Attribute format. Again here I will recommend you select Post title %Title% as your title attribute format.
Once done click “Save changes” and move to the next section.
Breadcrumbs are basically navigational elements which help your users to navigate the website in an easy to understand manner.
Here is an example of how Bredcrumbs looks on a WordPress site:
The Breadcrumbs setting in Rank Math lets you configure Breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are by default disabled on your site. If you want to use it on your site then you can simply turn it “ON” to enable on your site.
I personally do not use Breadcrumbs on my site to prevent clutter, but it is not at all a bad idea to use breadcrumbs on your site.
Once you enable breadcrumbs, all the other settings related to breadcrumbs will appear on the screen.
Have a look at them:
- Separator Character – This option lets you select a separator character for your breadcrumbs. I personally prefer to use ” – ” or “ » “.
- Show Homepage Link – If you want to include your homepage in the breadcrumbs, enable this option.
- Homepage label – Here you can configure what label to give the homepage of your website. I will recommend to just keep it simple “Home”.
- Homepage Link – This option will let you choose where you want to take your visitor when they click on home in breadcrumbs navigation. Just enter your homepage URL.
- Prefix Breadcrumb – If you want to add any text before your Breadcrumbs, you can add it from here. Popular options would be to add “You are here” or “Navigation”
- Archive Format – Keep it as it is.
- Search Result Format – This option lets you select a breadcrumb format for search results. I will recommend you to keep it as it.
- 404 label – This option lets you set a breadcrumb format for your 404 pages.
- Hide Post Title – By default your post title will also appear in Breadcrumbs navigation, but if you want to hide it from there just keep it “ON.”
- Show Category – This option enables ancestor categories in the breadcrumbs. I will recommend you to keep it “OFF.”
- Hide Taxonomy Name – Just keep it “OFF.”
(d) Webmaster Tools
Basically from here, you can verify your site with various search console account through here in case if your site isn’t already verified.
SingUp for a free account and once you fill all the basic necessary details about your site, you’ll get a verification code that you need to enter in <Head> section of your site’s code to verify your site with search console.
Now Just copy that code and paste into respective search console account box appearing in your rank math plugin.
(e) Edit Robots.txt
Rank math also gives you access to edit your WordPress site’s robots.txt file right from your dashboard.
Robot.txt is basically a text file present in the root of your website that helps Search engines understand which parts of your website you want them to crawl and index.
I will recommend you to keep it as it is.
(f) Edit .htaccess
The .htaccess file is a configuration file that helps users and search engines navigate your website.
I will not recommend you to edit this file from here as one single wrong code may break your whole site.
So, make sure you have good knowledge of .htaccess file before editing it from here. Otherwise, leave it as it is.
After .htaccess tab, there are few other tabs present in your General settings section like Other, search console, 404 monitors, etc. These settings do not have such importance from the SEO point of view and default settings are completely perfect. So we are not going to explore these sections in this guide. Still, if you have any questions related to those tabs, do let me know in the comments.
2. Rank Math ‘Titles and Meta’ Options and Settings
The titles and meta play an important role in how search engines perceive your content. Therefore it is important that they should be properly optimized.
Rank Math gives you easy options to optimize all the meta and title structure of your website. Let’s have a look at them:
(a) Global Meta
The global meta settings help set the default Title and Meta settings for all the posts and pages on your website. Here are the various option available in the Global meta tab.
- Robots Meta – The Robots Meta tags helps you communicate your indexing preference to the search engine. These tags can be set on the per post or per-page basis, but here you set up the default values for these tags.
This Robot Meta Option will be available in all the tab present in Title and meta settings. So, here let me explain what those tags actually mean.
No Index: Enabling this option communicates to search engines that you don’t want them to index this post.
No Archive: Enabling this option communicates to search engines that you don’t want them to show cached versions of this page in the search results
No Snippet: Enabling this option communicates to search engines that you don’t want them to include a snippet below the search result of your page.
No Follow: Enabling this option communicates to search engines that you don’t want them to follow any of the links on your page.
No Image Index: Enabling this option communicates to search engines that you don’t want them to index any images from your post.
I will not recommend you to use any of the Robot meta tags from here just leave every box unticked… You can use these tags on any of your individual posts and pages from your WordPress post editor.
- Noindex Empty Category and Tag Archives – Recommended to keep it “ON“
- Separator Character – This option lets you decide the separator character that will be used in the Title of your posts.
- Capitalize Titles – Enabling this option will capitalize the first letter of every word in your Title.
- OpenGraph Thumbnail – This option lets you set a default OpenGraph thumbnail. Opengraph tags are used by Facebook whenever one of your posts is shared on Facebook. Just upload a picture here which you want to show people whenever your post without featured image is shared on Facebook.
- Twitter Card Type – This option lets you set a default Twitter Card for your posts. Recommended to select “large image with Summary”.
(b) Local SEO
The Local SEO section contains all the settings related to Local Businesses. It will only appear when you have selected your website type as a local business in Rank Math setup wizard.
Note: If you do not have a local business then leave this tab as it is and move to the next section.
If you have a local business then you need to fill some basic details like your Business name, Logo, Address, About page link, Mobile number, etc.
(c) Social Meta
The Social Meta Section harbors all the settings related to the metadata for social media.
Here basically you just need to fill your social media handle details.
As you have probably already guessed this tab contains all the meta-information settings related to your Homepage.
Editor’s Note: This section will not appear in your Rank math plugin If you have made a custom page as your Homepage.
Let’s explore each option by one:
- HomePage Title – Here you set the title of the homepage of your website. You can either set a static title like “Blogging nova” or create the ones with variables.
- Homepage Meta Description – Here you can enter a meta description for your homepage. Similar to the homepage title, you can either set a static description like “Welcome to my blog ——or create the one with variables.
- Homepage Robots Meta – This option lets you set the Robots Meta for your homepage. We have already discussed the different robot meta options earlier in this post. Just set it to default.
- Homepage Title for Facebook – Here you can add a separate title for Facebook.
- Homepage Description for Facebook – Just like title here you can set a separate description fro Facebook.
- Homepage Thumbnail for Facebook – Here you can choose the default thumbnail image that will be used when someone shares your homepage on Facebook
Just like Categories and tags WordPress also creates Author Archives. The Author tabs contain all the meta settings related to Author Archive.
Editor’s Note: Better to keep it disabled if you are running a single author Website.
(f) Misc Pages
JThe Misc Pages tab contains all the settings for all the misc pages in WordPress like the search page, 404 pages, and more.
Editor’s note: Better to keep it disabled for most of the sites.
Optimizing Your Posts and Pages with Yoast SEO
Just installing and setting up the Rank Math plugin is not enough. In order for you to really maximize the benefit of an SEO plugin, you need to utilize this plugin on per post basis to optimize your every content for search engines.
Let’s take a look at how you can maximize the benefits of Rank Math by optimizing each post/page in WordPress.
First thing first, how to access the Rank Math customization box in your Post or pages.
Rank Math fully supports old famous classic editor as well as new Gutenberg block editor.
If you’re using the classic editor, then you’ll have to scroll down below the text area to access Rank Math customization box.
Or if you are using the Gutenberg block editor then you have to click the SEO Score button on the top-right corner of the screen to access the Rank Math customization box.
Now, comes the real Question – How to start optimizing your content For SEO with Rank Math?
Well, First thing First you have to first find a few Focus keywords for your content.
I don’t know if you know about keyword research or not…
Keyword research is the process of discovering words and phrases that people use in search engines with the ultimate goal of optimizing content around those terms.Brian Dean from Backlinko
How to find keywords that people are actually searching for?
Well, for that you’ll need to use a keyword research tool like SEMrush. These keyword research tools help you easily find good keywords that are easy for rank in Google.
For example- Let’s say you are writing a post on “Best Television”, So now you can just enter your main keyword into the SEMrush tool and this tool will give you plenty of Keyword ideas related to your Primary keyword.
Here you can apply filters like keywords volume, Competition, word count, etc to find only those keywords that are pretty easy to rank in Google.
I will recommend you to follow this tutorial to know more about keyword research.
Once you have few keywords, Enter your primary keyword first and then add other related keywords into the Focus keyword area in Rank math.
After that, you need to optimize your Meta title, Description and Post URL (Very important)
Here are few things to keep in mind while optimizing meta-information:
- Make sure you include your primary keyword in Title, URL as well as Description.
- Make sure your title word count is between 50-60 letters.
- Make sure your meta description is under 160 letters.
After that, Rank Math will check your post content for SEO and Readability analysis. You can view the analysis to further improve your article.
After the general section, there is an advanced section where you can basically set your robot meta preference and canonical URL.
Then we have a schema tab where you can apply various schema on your posts and pages.
Rank Math comes with 14 types of schema which includes:
- Job posting
You can use any of the following according to your needs wherever it is necessary.
Then at last, we have Social customization tab where you can actually preview and edit the thumbnail, title, and description that will be displayed when your post is shared on social media.
Once you are done with all the optimization processes, You can now check your SEO score appearing at the top-right corner.
SEO score basically shows how well you have optimized your content for SEO.
I hope this guide helped you install and setup the Rank Math SEO plugin. You may also want to see my monster WordPress SEO guide for beginners.
If you have any question related to Rank Math settings, do let me knoe in the comments.