If you use the Yoast SEO plugin you have to know a tool that sooner or later you will use. I am referring to a very little known but tremendously useful tool plugin, Yoast Test Helper.
It is installed like any other free WordPress plugin and is available in the official search engine and directory.
I discovered it from a support ticket, in which the Yoast team recommended it to me to optimize the database of a client’s website that we do maintenance for, but it serves for that and much more. Let’s get to know it, and I’ll explain everything it offers…
As soon as you install the plugin, go to the administration menu Tools → Yoast Test, and there is all its potential, in separate tabs, each one more useful.
Let’s see what each one is for…
Plugin options and database versions
This tab allows you to switch between different versions of the plugin, both free and premium, for development testing, and to restore settings from one version to another to compare their performance.
Activate support session
Occasionally the Yoast support team will ask you to install this plugin and check this box to enable a support session which, as it states, deactivates itself after 4 hours.
This will activate a shared browsing session with the Yoast team, once you fill in the support bubble form that will appear at the bottom right of the screen.
Enter your name, the subject, your email address and as much detail as possible about the problem, and you can even attach images.
Activate development mode
This is the same as the “traditional” method of activating Yoast SEO debug mode, which you can also activate with this filter added to your customizations plugin:
From its activation it will work as the WordPress debug mode, displaying error and/or warning messages, useful for websites under development or having problems.
This tool is for when you have the free and premium versions of Yoast SEO, and after activating it adds a top menu in the administration to make quick changes between one version and another, to be able to debug problems, test features or whatever you want.
With this tool you can do several useful things, especially in development or staging environments, such as…
- Change the name of your test domain with the real one in the Schema output, in case you activated Yoast SEO in development and have moved to production.
- Enable structured data markup.
- Apply changes to breadcrumbs and Open Graph WebPage markup, if they are affected by the change from development to production.
This tool is useful in both development and production and allows you to disable sitemap caching in case crawlers are indexing older versions of your XML sitemaps.
You can also set the maximum number of records in each sitemap submap, changing it from the default number (1,000) to whatever you deem appropriate for your site, which should never exceed that number for performance reasons.
If you prefer to do the latter with a filter you can use the following one, changing the number in the example (500) to the one you consider:
With this tool you tell your MyYoast account what type of site is active:
Debug Bar integration
By activating this tool you integrate Yoast SEO with the Debug Bar plugin, so that it also displays Yoast debugging information.
Content types and taxonomies
This tool is a bit special, and the truth is that it doesn’t seem to fit in this plugin, but I’m sure it will be very useful for more than one of you.
What you can do with it is to activate 2 new content types and their taxonomies: books and videos, plus some blocks in the editor to edit these content types.
You will love this tool if you are a developer, because it is a kind of code snippet editor, in this case only scripts, with which you can apply your scripts to the installation, even indicating after which other WordPress script or Yoast automatically include it for execution.
And I have left for the end the specific tool that led me to know this gem of a plugin. I’m referring to the tab called Yoast SEO, from which you can fix almost any problem generated with or by Yoast SEO.
- Reset the internal link counter, if for some reason they are not displayed correctly, to force a count from zero.
- Reset the calculation of prominent words, in case the recommendation engine is not making good suggestions.
- Reset the Yoast configuration wizard, to start from scratch your settings.
- Reset all Yoast ads, accepted or hidden.
- Reset the usage tracking authorization, if you disabled it.
- Reset indexable tables and migrations, the best one, for when Yoast starts to consume too many resources or even bring down your website.
- Reset SEO profiles and capabilities, in case any plugin has altered the SEO manager and/or SEO editor profiles and capabilities.
You may have noticed that it is not a plugin to have always active, and that it is not even for all types of users, as it is mainly oriented to developers and debugging problems.
In fact if you plan to use it only for the new types of content of books and videos I recommend that you better do it with any other CPTs plugin.
Now, when you are in trouble and Yoast is out there having something to do with it, or you suspect it might have something to do with it, it offers really interesting debugging and bug fixing tools, especially if you are in contact with the Yoast support team, who will be able to tell you what you need according to your situation.
Hopefully you have learned something new, and I think this time it is a plugin that you have to know and know how to use, in case you need it someday, don’t you think?